Rhode Island Church Taking Unusual Step to Illuminate Its Slavery Role
Photo: Charlie Mahoney/NY Times
Providence, R.I. - Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely, who became Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island in 2012, is taking steps to publicly acknowledge its past. They include the establishment of a museum focused on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery and the North's complicity, as part of a new center for racial reconciliation and healing.
"I want to tell the story," Bishop Knisely said, "of how the Episcopal Church and religious voices participated in supporting the institution of slavery and how they worked to abolish it. It's a mixed bag."
The museum and reconciliation center are to be housed at the 200-year-old stone Cathedral of St. John, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. Because of dwindling membership, the majestic but deteriorating cathedral was closed in 2012.
The idea for the museum and reconciliation center grew out of community discussions over what to do with the shuttered cathedral; it has gained new urgency in recent months as numerous cities have erupted in racial unrest.