2007-02-08 / News

Hear about religious freedom, slavery in Colonial Newport

Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce and a speaker with expertise in early African- and Jewish-American history, will be the guest lecturer on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the North Kingstown Free Library.

"Colonial Newport, Rhode Island before the American Revolution was the fifth largest seaport in America. Newport was also the most active slave- trading port in America, with one of every four Newport households owning at least one African slave by 1774," according to Stokes.

The lecture will include a visual discussion of the simultaneous rise and irony of religious freedom and toleration in Colonial Newport with African enslavement.

The lecture will present the unique slave economy within Newport featuring African slaves who worked, worshipped, and lived side by side with their white masters and families. The lecture will also present the invaluable contributions slave and free people of African heritage made to Newport's economic, religious, and cultural life.

Stokes holds a master's degree from the University of Chicago. He did his undergraduate work at Cornell. The program is free and open to the public. To register, which is required, call the library's Circulation Desk at 294-3306, ext. 3.

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