Rhode Island’s historical slave medallions

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PORTSMOUTH, RI – An innovative project is shining a light on the hidden history of Rhode Island.

Slave medallions, will be placed throughout the state marking the role each city played in the triangular slave trade.

NewsChannel 34’s Chelsea Jones walks us through what each bronze plaque will represent as slavery was the economic engine of the Ocean State.

The journey starts right here with a QR code on each medallion, it unlocks the history of Rhode Island and its use of slave labor.

Patriots Park is home to the first QR-coded slave medallion.

It’s a symbol here in Portsmouth- honoring the land where the first United States integrated army fought in the battle of Rhode Island.

(Charles Roberts, Executive Director of Rhode Island Slave History Medallions)
“And how they were used were like indentured servants.”

Here’s how the medallion works.

You can take your phone, open the camera and then hover over the code.

It will then take you to this website – revealing what each city’s role was in slavery.

(Charles Roberts, Executive Director of Rhode Island Slave History Medallions)
“It was a necessity to have slaves.”

Slaves were captured from their tribes in Africa – brought to our ports in Rhode Island and then used in the process of creating rum.

A big industry here back in the 1700s and 1800s.

(Charles Roberts, Executive Director of Rhode Island Slave History Medallions)
“We’re trying to tell the unvarnished truth.”

Charles Roberts, Executive Director of the Rhode Island slave history medallions, says without slaves the Ocean State wouldn’t exist as we know it.

So now, these medallions serve as a link to a painful past, in hopes of a brighter future.

Roberts says the next step to make sure there is intergenerational knowledge.

So, he plans to take this project into the classrooms next.

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