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Africans in Newport History Celebration

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Join The African Alliance of Rhode Island To Celebrate & Recognize the Oldest & Largest Existing African Burying Ground in America at the Common Burying Ground, Farewell Street, Newport, Rhode Island

The ceremony will begin at Ellery Park at the corner of Thames and Farewell streets where Newport’s Liberty Tree was first planted in 1765. Almost ten years before its planting, enslaved and free Africans would gather every June to elect the “Negro Governor” or tribal chief of the Newport community.
The group will walk down Farewell Street led by an African drummer to the Common Burying Ground. The cemetery ceremony will include a reflection of the history of Africans in Newport. Afterwards, an African Griot will formally incorporate the history of Newport into the oral history of West Africa. A Libation Ceremony led by a West African tribal Chief will include a ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to God in memory of our ancestors.

unnamed-newportDate: August 16, 2014
Time: 11am – 1pm


  • 10:30AM – 11:00AM

o   Gather at Liberty Park (Corner of Thames & Farewell Streets) *

  • 11:00AM

o   Welcome by African Alliance Rhode Island President, Julius Kolawole

o   Introduction of African Arrivals to Early Newport and Recounting of “Negro Election Day” Ceremony of 1756 at the site by Keith Stokes.

  • 11:15AM

o   African Drummer will lead walk to Common Burying Ground Cemetery (Farewell Street) The walk will reenact the funeral march of 18th century African community of Newport

  • 11:30AM

o   Welcome to Newport by Honorable Mayor Henry F. Winthrop.

o   Introduction to “God’s Little Acre,” oldest & largest enslaved and free African burying ground in America (c.1705) Keith Stokes

o   Grio Presentation performed by Shina Omoduni **

o   Libation Ceremony performed by Chief Nana Ofori Anor ***

o   Closing Remarks by Julius Kolawole, African Alliance of RI

o   Guided Cemetery Tours by Theresa Stokes

  • 12:15PM

o   Walk with drummer back to Liberty Park

o   Open Conversations

  • 1:00PM

o   Event Ends

* A bus will be available at the Newport Gateway Center, 1 America’s Cup Blvd. to transport to event locations.

* A Grio is a West African historian, storyteller, and poet who is a repository of oral and ancestral tradition.

** The Libation ceremony is a ritual of heritage, a drink offering to honor and please the Creator, the lesser divinities, sacred ancestors, humans present and not present, as well as the environment.


For more info, call AARI‘s office 401-331-5535

Simon Goudiaby /AARI (401) 226-4608

For more information click to visit site.



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