Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
2/22/2021 MEDIA ADVISORY: Speaker Shekarchi, Rep. Williams, Sen. Mack to participate in Walmart Foundation grant announcement for RI African Heritage History Education curriculum for public schools
STATE HOUSE – House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) and Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) will participate in a virtual Zoom press conference on Thursday, February 25 at 11 a.m. as the Walmart Foundation announces a grant to the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society to develop a Rhode Island African Heritage History Education curriculum for all public schools.

The $50,000 grant will help incorporate African American heritage history into Rhode Island public schools. The work towards a curriculum was initiated by the 1696 Historical Commission, which the General Assembly launched in 2014.  The legislation was co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Williams, Shekarchi, Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence) and Marvin Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown) and former Rep. Joseph Almeida, and it was sponsored in the Senate by former Sen. Harold Metts.  Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea chaired the commission, and it submitted a report to the Assembly and the Governor.  Since then, a commission task force has been assembling the required historical and educational content to define and build a sustainable curriculum.

“The mission is to advance knowledge and recognition of the integral role of Africans, and later African heritage people, in the history of Rhode Island and our nation,” said Keith Stokes, a public historian and member of the commission.  “These studies will empower all Rhode Island students to develop attitudes of tolerance and acceptance of the dignity of every person through a learning experience of a more inclusive and complete history of our state.”

Partnering with the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society on this project are Rhode Island College, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Newport Historical Society.

Also participating in the press conference, during Black History Month, will be Walmart officials Chris Buchanan and Regine Moore, Secretary of State Gorbea, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Newport Mayor Jean Marie Napolitano, RIC President Frank Sanchez, RI Black Heritage Society Executive Director Theresa Guzman Stokes and 1696 Historical Commission member Keith Stokes.

Representative Williams is leading an effort to submit legislation to incorporate African Heritage History Education in all Rhode Island elementary and secondary schools. The goal is for all students to receive instruction on African Heritage History in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of the history of our nation.

Media members wishing to participate, please contact Larry Berman at to be sent a Zoom link for the press conference.

For more information, contact:
Larry Berman, Communications Director for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 322
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2466