- Campus Life
The St. George’s community will take part in an important initiative this year, School Chaplain Jackie Kirby announced in her sermon on Sept. 28. Named the “Beloved Community Initiative,” the program will be comprised of events focused on the history and legacy of race and slavery in the United States, Rhode Island, and St. George’s.
The program seeks “to move St. George’s closer to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as the ‘Beloved Community,’ characterized by compassion, kindness, mutual understanding, and respect for the dignity of every human being,” according to the Rev. Dr. Kirby.
"The Beloved Community Initiative is seeking to center our focus on gaining a broader understanding and appreciation of pivotal social justice moments in the school's history by reflecting on the experiences and stories of members of the broader St. George's community," SG Director of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Kim Bullock said. "Through educational programming, the initiative also seeks to share the impact and history of African heritage and culture in our local community as well as provide context for understanding the connection between these historical events in today's current events and on St. George's campus."
Funded by a grant from the George Arents Jr. Cerimon Fund, the initiative is being led by Director of Diversity Dr. Kim Bullock, Associate Head for Student Life Mervan Osborne, Alyson Mulhern, P’19, ’21, and the Rev. Dr. Kirby.
Former SG Chaplain Hays Rockwell was the first chapel guest speaker for the initiative on Oct. 4. He delivered an address about his experience as the advisor to Conrad Young, the first black student to attend St. George's.
Reporter and editor Timothy Phelps '65 was the second chapel guest speaker on Oct. 18. Mr. Phelps worked for the Providence Journal, St. Petersburg Times, Baltimore Sun, New York Times, Newsday, and the L.A. Times, covering the U.S. Justice Department and legal affairs in Washington, D.C. Video of his talk is available here.
Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island, the Right Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely Jr. and Rabbi Dr. Loel Martin Weiss were the next two guest speakers at a special chapel service on Jan. 17. Both spoke on what Martin Luther King Jr.'s often-used phrase "Beloved Community" means to them. Following their speeches, both guests partook in a Q&A and answered students' questions about religion. Video of Rabbi Weiss is available here and video of Rev. Knisely's talk is available here.
Next, celebrated author and journalist Sylvester Monroe '69, P'95 spoke at a special chapel service on Feb. 7 about his time as part of the first ABC (A Better Chance) cohort of black students at SG. An author and veteran reporter who has worked for Time, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, Sylvester was the 2001 recipient of SG's John B. Diman Award, our highest alumni honor. View the video of his talk here. The Chapel Choir also performed the song "I Dream a World" at the service, which can be viewed here.
Local historian Keith Stokes visited campus on Feb. 11 to speak to students during Community Life Programming. Mr. Stokes described the arrival of enslaved Africans to Newport and the later development of some of the earliest African, religious, civic and educational institutions in America. He presented stories and images of African heritage people to advance a new and deeper understanding of Newport and particularly people of color. Mr. Stokes will also help curate the Spring Artifacts Exhibit in the Art Center. You can watch his presentation here.
Upcoming Beloved Community initiatives include:
Spring Artifacts Exhibit in Hunter Gallery
· 18th & 19th century pamphlets on African enslavement and trade
· Original 19th century abolitionist books associated with Newport religious & civic leaders
· Photo images of 19th century African American Newport life