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Photo of downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

Power and Politics: The Struggle for the Soul of Providence Tour

Power to the people!

Rhode Island has always been a hotbed of dissent and conflict, from its founding as a haven for religious dissidents to its status as the first colony to declare independence from Great Britain. But for this tour, we'll take a closer look at Rhode Island's internal conflicts, including how Rhode Island's tremendous profit on the international slave trade powered the Industrial Revolution, how the state barely overcame revolution in defiance of rebellious suffragists, all the way through how the state fought but failed to prevent the first Gay Pride parade from taking place in Providence in 1976.

Providence has also been home to courageous and resilient people who were able to achieve incredible feats despite the deck being stacked against them in every way. Learn about Edward Bannister, a 19th-century Black barber who overcame prejudice to become a painter of national acclaim; Princess Red Wing, a passionate educator, storyteller, and Narragansett and Pokanoket activist; Maritcha Lyons, who testified at the age of 16 in favor of Rhode Island school desegregation; and the 1902 labor strike that stopped Rhode Island's urban core in its tracks.

The walk begins on the Michael Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge and concludes after a 1-mile stroll at Roger Williams National Memorial. 

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Sights to See

  • The Michael Van Leesten Memorial Bridge

  • Site of Sabin's Tavern

  • Joseph Tillinghast House

  • Market House

  • Old State House

  • First Baptist Church

  • Roger Williams National Memorial

Tour Info

  • Meeting Point: Amphitheatre on Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge 

  • Address: Intersection of James and South Water Street, Providence, RI

  • Distance: About 1 mile

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Tour Length: About 150 minutes

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