Newport Rhode Island Museum of History was formerly a slave market built in 1762
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Keith Stokes, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp (RIEDC) and well known local historian on the history of the African American slave trade in Rhode Island, spoke on Feb. 15, 2012 at the Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport’s observance of African American/Black History Month.
Stokes's topic, “Newport, Rhode Island: A Center for Slave Trade in America” at the Naval War College’s Spruance Hall auditorium. The observance sponsored by NAVSTA Newport’s Diversity Committee is open to all hands and authorized patrons of Naval Station Newport.
Established in 1926 as Negro History Week by Harvard historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the observance was expanded in 1976 by President Gerald R. Ford when he declared the entire month of February Black History Month.
The 2012 Black History Month theme is “Black Women in American History and Culture.”
Stokes is an historian on African Americans in Rhode Island. He lectures nationally on early African American and Jewish American history. He has researched the early slave trade and the role Newport played in the commerce of sugar, slaves and molasses.
Prior to his appointment to the RIEDC, Stokes was the executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce for over 15 years. Before the chamber of commerce, he worked as a senior policy adviser to former Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun. He is also a frequent national, state, and local lecturer in community and regional planning, and historic preservation and interpretation.