In Fall 2004, Mary Tefft (Happy) White provided Roger Williams University with a generous gift to launch the annual program, Mary Tefft White Lecture Series. The following lectures are free and open to the public.
Under this year's theme, Talking in the Library, the speakers offer compelling personal stories of unique calls to service to the community through their individual creative contributions.
Rick Benjamin is the State Poet of Rhode Island and currently a lecturer in Public Humanities & Environmental Studies at Brown University. Dr. Rick Benjamin will explore the role that poetry and the literary arts play in both shaping and understanding Rhode Island's identity in both past and present.
Alan Leveillee is an anthropologist and archaeologist. Archaeologists have found evidence of Indian peoples spanning 11,000 years occupying what we now call New England. What do human remains and artifacts tell us about these early residents of North America? What is their relation to present-day Native American tribal groups? Learn about what archaeological sites reveal about life in this region several millennia before the arrival of European colonists.
Hester Kaplan is an American short story writer and novelist, and she is also on the faculty of Lesley University's MFA Program in Creating Writing. Her most recent novel, The Tell, is set in Providence's east side. In addition to reading from her book, Ms. Kaplan will also discuss the role Providence played in shaping her novel, as well as how living in Rhode Island has informed her writing.
Ray Rickman is the president of the Rickman Group (former president of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and Secretary of the Rhode Island Historical Society). In the 1824 Hardscrabble Riot and the 1831 Snow Town Riot, working-class whites attacked African-American residents. The elite town fathers were unable to control the violent mobs and had to request that the Governor send in military troops. A race riot was not a rare event during the years between the American Revolution and the Dorr Rebellion. Ray Rickman gives a riveting talk about the confluence of class and race in early America. The talk is also centered on how the riots convinced the people of Providence to demand the creation of a city government with strong police powers.
All lectures will be held in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center, University Library