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“Hope Deferred”: George T. Downing and the Nineteenth Century Civil Rights Movement

March 21 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Thursday March 21, 2024 at 6:30pm; doors open at 5:30pm for a cocktail reception
$20 per person, $15 for Newport Historical Society members and active duty military
Newport Historical Society Resource Center, 82 Touro Street

On Thursday March 21, 2024 at 6:30pm, Rhode Island historians Erik Chaput and Russell DeSimone will discuss the life and career of one of the most important civil rights activists of the 19th century – George T. Downing (1819-1903). Although Downing traveled extensively, living in Providence and Boston before the Civil War, as well as in Washington, D.C., managing the U.S. House of Representatives dining room, Newport remained Downing’s home for most of his life.

Chaput and DeSimone, who have written extensively on the history of the Ocean State, have recently completed research detailing Downing’s involvement with the Black Convention movement in the 19th century. In addition to Downing’s connection to Black Conventions in the North from the 1840s through the 1880s, Chaput and DeSimone will detail Downing’s efforts in the 1860s to desegregate schools in Rhode Island.

A native Rhode Islander, Erik Chaput teaches at Providence College and at Western Reserve Academy. He holds a doctorate in American History from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University; he is the author of The People’s Martyr: Thomas Wilson Dorr and His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion. Independent scholar Russel DeSimone has authored many books about Rhode Island history. His most recent book is Rhode Island Election Tickets: A Survey of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Paper Ballots. Together Chaput and DeSimone co-created the award-winning Dorr Rebellion Project Website.

Admission to Hope Deferred costs $20 per person, $15 for Newport Historical Society members along with active-duty military. The talk takes place at the NHS Resource Center, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI; doors open at 5:30pm for a cocktail reception and the lecture begins promptly at 6:30pm.


Newport Historical Society
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Newport Historical Society Resource Center
82 Touro Street
Newport, RI 02840 United States
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