Block Island Times

Historical Society talk to shed light on Black and Native histories on Block Island

Cultural and civic landmarks on Block Island tell the visitor and resident that the island is 359 years old; that it was “settled” in 1661 by a group of families, all with familiar European names. Anniversaries and events have been organized around that year, and the names of the “founding families” of Block Island are literally etched in stone.
But the history of this island is far older, far more complicated, and, in many ways, far more obscured. What happened in 1661, however, directly correlates to what happened to the native people, the Manisseans, who were here long before 1661, and who are still here today. And — has the histories of the island’s Black and enslaved population been fully explored?
These topics, and others, will be discussed at the Block Island Historical Society’s 2020 Annual Meeting on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Attendees can participate on Zoom. ( A recording of the meeting will be posted at
Block Island Historical Society Board member Sue Hagedorn said she was motivated by the death of George Floyd — an event that has sparked national protests and strengthened the national and global Black Lives Matter

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