Inductees in African Americans

  1. Edward Mitchell Bannister

    Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901)

    Inducted in 1976

    Edward M. Bannister was a nationally famous painter during the 19th century. He was a self-taught pioneer among African-American artists, and won a national award during the U.S. Read more >

  2. Andrew J. Bell, Jr. (1907-2000)

    Inducted in 2007

    Andrew J. Bell, Jr. was born in Providence in September 1907, the son of Andrew J. and Beatrice J. Read more >

  3. Fred Benson (1895-1996)

    Inducted in 1982

    Fred Benson, 1895-1996, was a popular teacher, baseball coach and successful Block Island business leader. His devotion and philanthropies to Block Island inspired the "Fred Benson Scholarship Fund", designed to give financial aid to college-bound youth. Read more >

  4. Joseph Gomes (1910-1986)

    Inducted in 1988

    Joseph Gomes was the only Rhode Islander to play baseball in the Negro Major Baseball League, and was named an all-star in each of the seven years he played. He compiled a 362-41 pitching record, with a 1.74 earned-run-average in the Majors. He was an extraordinary athlete as a Rhode Island schoolboy all-stater in baseball, golf, and football. Read more >
  5. Lloyd T. Griffin, Jr. (1940-1999)

    Inducted in 2006

    Lloyd Griffin died on November 24, 1999, at the age of fifty nine. His memorial Mass on December 1 at Holy Rosary Church in his native Fox Point was well attended for an ordinary man; but Lloyd was not an ordinary man, and the church was far from over flowing. A few black community leaders were present- notably Cliff Montiero, Mike Van Leesten, and John Rollins--but white politicians were few. The only politico of stature was Fred Lippitt, with whom Lloyd had allied in the hotly contested Providence mayoral election of 1990. Read more >

  6. Dr. Raymond T. Jackson

    Dr. Raymond T. Jackson (1933-)

    Inducted in 1966

    Dr. Raymond T. Jackson, originally of Providence, is an accomplished concert pianist and graduate of the Julliard School of Music. Noted for bringing the music of African-American composers to the concert stage. Read more >

  7. Matilda Sissieretta Jones

    Matilda Sissieretta Jones (1869-1933)

    Inducted in 1977

    Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones ("Black Patti") 1869-1933, was a famous concert singer of the 19th century. After becoming the the first African-American artist to perform at the Wallack's Theatre in New York, she toured South America, Europe and Canada. Known as "the Black Patti," after Italian diva Adelina Patti, Ms. Jones performed in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and before the crowned heads of Europe. Read more >

  8. George S. Lima, Sr

    George S. Lima, Sr (1919-2011)

    Inducted in 2012

    George S. Lima, Sr., the son of immigrants from Cape Verde, spent his adolescent years in Harlem, Fall River, and Providence with his Cape Verdean family. His life changed dramatically when he enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in 1939 on a football scholarship. Read more >

  9. William H. Matthews

    Inducted in 1985

    William H. Matthews was the former First Deputy City Clerk of Providence, and considered by many as the finest athlete the state has produced. "Dixie", as he was known to all, was considered by leaders of the city's African-American community as their "first but unofficial" City Councilman. Born in Providence, he retired after thirty-eight years of City employment, culminating in his appointment to the highest City post ever held by an African-American. Read more >

  10. John Carter Minkins

    John Carter Minkins (1869-1959)

    Inducted in 2013

    He was the first African American editor of a white newspaper. He was a renowned speaker and defender of human rights, attacking segregation and discrimination.

    John Carter Minkins came into this life on January 29, 1869 in Norfolk, Virginia. His mother died very young and he never met his white father. Read more >
  11. Fredrick Douglass

    Fredrick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard (1894-1986)

    Inducted in 1967

    Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard, 1894-1986, came from Lane Tech in Chicago and was known as a great running-back for Brown University in 1915 and 1916. As a freshman he started on the Brown squad that played in the first Rose Bowl game, becoming the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl. In 1916, the fleet and elusive Pollard was hailed by Coach Walter Camp as "The finest back these eyes have ever seen." Several weeks later, Pollard became the first black man ever to make Walter Camp's All-American backfield. Read more >

  12. Reverend Mahlon Van Horne (1840-1910)

    Inducted in 2005

    Reverend Mahlon Van Horne (1840-1910) had a career that ranged from minister of the Gospel at the black Union Congregational Church at Newport to minister of diplomacy as United States Consul to St. Thomas in the West Indies. He was at heart always a teacher.

    Bom in Princeton New Jersey in 1840, Van Horne was graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Read more >

  13. Michel S. Van Leesten

    Inducted in 2001

    MICHAEL S. VAN LEESTEN, of Providence, Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is the former director of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Providence, former director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rhode Island, former chairman of the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation, and a prominent real estate developer. He has held leadership positions in the NAACP, Urban League, the Black Repertory Company, and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. As a youth, Mike was a star schoolboy and college athlete, excelling in basketball. Read more >
  14. William D. & Olive F. Wiley

    Inducted in 1985

    Mr. William (b. 1898) & Mrs. Olive F. Read more >

  15. George A. Wiley (1931-1973)

    Inducted in 2010

    Warwick's George Wiley (1931-1973) compiled a record of service to his country which equals the sacrifices and service of his fellow hometowners, Nathanael and Christopher Greene. Like those men of the Revolutionary War generation, George, too, became a champion of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whereas the Greenes took direct military action against Britain's King George by snatching the scepter from a tyrant's hand, George Wiley took direct action to ensure that the rights forged by the American Revolution were extended to those of the least station in American society, the poor.

    Born in 1931 to a middle-class black family with a deeply held religious tradition, George A. Read more >

  16. James N. Williams (1909-)

    Inducted in 1978

    James N. Williams was the first and long-time Executive Director of the Urban League of Rhode Island and participated in the triumphs in the battle for racial equality in this nation. He also was active in many civic endeavors and served as a member of the state Advisory Council on Aging and other organizations which assist elderly residents. Read more >

  17. Frederick C. Williamson, Sr.

    Frederick C. Williamson, Sr. (1915-2010)

    Inducted in 1981

    Frederick C. Williamson, Sr.,1915-2010, was State Director of the RI Department of Community Affairs and Rhode Island's Historic Preservation Officer. He was instrumental in many of the state's historic buildings and sites accepted for the National Historic Register. Read more >



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