Hidden Truths: Stories of Race and Place in New England and Beyond

This series features the research and policy work of RWU faculty and staff and community members that resurfaces untold histories and complicates received knowledge and understandings of our collective pasts. It is sponsored by the Co-Lab, the Office of the President and the Provost’s Office.

The Co-Lab @ RWU is pleased to present Roger Williams University's fourth annual Hidden Truths: Stories of Race and Place lecture series. The series engages the university community and the public in deeper understandings and informed dialogues around how past inequities continue to impact societal and cultural realities and disparities today. 
All lectures will take place virtually and will be available for later viewing, making the presentations modular and accessible to work into courses. To view past presentations in the series, visit RWU’s YouTube channel.

All members of the campus community and the general public are welcome to attend these virtual conversations.

All events are at 7:00 pm via Zoom

Reckoning with Commemorative and Confederate Monuments: An Analysis

Saeed Hydaralli, Associate Professor of Sociology.

Tuesday, November 14

Since 2015 there has been increased contestation over commemorative monuments in the US and Canada that are situated in community spaces. Those calling for the removal or relocation of such monuments argue that many experience these sites as reminders and celebrations of their historical oppression and denigration - in other words, as a form of hate speech. Those who defend the continued display of such monuments have argued that the objects reflect “heritage, not hate.” Here, a commitment to heritage, however distasteful in the eyes of others, might be read as a form of pride in, and loyalty to, one’s cultural and ancestral lineage. Rather than adjudicate this division, this talk engages discourse on inheritance and loyalty, examining the ambiguity that informs celebration and legitimation of actions widely construed as treasonous and/or hateful to historical and contemporary victims.

Dr. Saeed Hydaralli is Associate Professor of Sociology at Roger Williams University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from York University and previously taught at Drexel University, OCAD University, and York University. He also holds an MBA, and previously worked in packaged goods marketing as a product manager and in advertising as a copywriter. His current research is directed to an examination of a society’s contemporary relation to its uncomfortable past and present. This research takes the form of case studies having to do with: (i) a society’s memorializing of its cultural inheritance. For example, monuments to figures such as Christopher Columbus; former US Presidents and Canadian Prime Ministers; and Confederate leaders); (ii) the history of Residential Schools in Canada that has been taken up in the form of a government inquiry called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the six-volume report that has been issued; (iii) The issue of book censorship as it relates to the classroom and libraries in the US; and (iv) The issue of the prevalence of gun as it relates to the Second Amendment.

Equitable Renewal: Reclamation and Repair

Edgar Adams

February 6, 2024

Reparations are a crucial means of acknowledging the irreparable harm done to BIPOC populations since the colonization of what is now the United States, but are they enough? Several US cities as well as the State of California have begun this difficult conversation and are helping to define what a “just” or “antiracist” city or society might look like. By focusing on the urban renewal programs of the 1950s and 1960s, reparations programs offer an opportunity to examine the planning and architecture professions’ role in perpetuating the racist policies and discriminatory real estate and lending practices responsible for our current landscape of inequity. Without a clearer accounting for the lasting impacts of this history, stark disparities in outcomes will only persist. This realization, and the murder of George Floyd, prompted Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to commit to a comprehensive truth-telling, reconciliation, and reparations process in July 2020 that culminated in August 2022 with a municipal reparations strategy. In order to engage with these pressing issues, a community-engaged studio was proposed in collaboration with the organizers of Providence’s reconciliation framework. Together we examined three sites of past trauma and used design as a tool to both reveal and heal these ingrained physical and social scars. Students were tasked with intervening in the work of an acclaimed architect culpable in the erasure of a socially and economically integrated African Heritage and Indigenous neighborhood and helping to mend the marginalized and embattled community that became home to those who were ultimately displaced. By using design as research, students were also able to document what was lost and explore place-based strategies of repair and community-centered renewal that could inform future reconciliation and reparations efforts in Providence and elsewhere. 

Edgar Adams is a Professor of Architecture in the Cummings School of Architecture. Since joining RWU in 1992, he has served as coordinator of the Architecture program and was co-founder and coordinator of the Urban Studies program. Following his graduate studies in Urban Design, he worked on several award-winning academic buildings and urban design projects at Koetter, Kim & Associates in Boston and consulted w/ Michael Dennis Associates on the Carnegie Mellon Student Center. Since joining RWU, he has taught a range of courses while maintaining his focus on Urban Design. In 1994 he initiated the Prague Summer Study Abroad Program with Andrew Cohen and Andrea Homolacova Adams; and in 1999 he helped establish the RWU Rome Program (now located in Florence). His work with the Community Partnership Center is the product of many years of work with local communities through his topical studios in Urban Design. These studios reflect his research interests in equity in housing, resilient waterfront development, adaptive reuse, the impact of technology on urban form, Smart Growth strategies and Transit Oriented Development. 

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The Story of a Narragansett Indian Tribal Member

Sonia Thomas

March 5, 2024

Sonia Thomas shares the story of a Narragansett Indian girl in Rhode Island who grew up in a third world in America. Thomas is the daughter of the War Chief of the Narragansett Tribe, where her uncle was chief for 32 years. She is a long-time, experienced teacher on the indigenous ways of the Narragansett tribal people. Thomas is also an Eastern Blanket dancer and a proud active member of her sister tribes. Thomas has a B.A. in Organizational Leadership and Change from College Unbound and is a Master's degree candidate in Community Development at RWU. She is also a mother of four and a full-time employee at College Unbound. 

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Educational Segregation and Inequality in Rhode Island

Nicole Dyszlewski, Taino Palermo, Samuel Filiaggi, Monica Teixeira de Sousa, and Kerri Ullucci

April 16, 2024

Join community leaders from the School of Law and School of Humanities, Arts and Education for a discussion of the history of racial segregation and race-based inequality in education in Rhode Island and a celebration of and call for greater agency on the part of Black and POC parents and communities to advocate for their children.

Monica Teixeira de Sousa is a Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law where she teaches Property, Family Law, and Race & the Foundations of American Law.  Prior to joining the RWU Law faculty in 2022, Monica was a tenured professor at New England Law | Boston where she created and served as the director of the First Generation Students Program.  Before her academic career, Professor Teixeira de Sousa was a staff attorney at Rhode Island Legal Services, where she began practicing in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow and created a school-based legal clinic at her former elementary school in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She represented parents and students in school discipline and special education cases, as well as public benefits and eviction defense matters.

Nicole P. Dyszlewski currently serves as the Director of Special Programs, Academic Affairs, for the Law School. She originally joined the staff of the law school as the Research/Access Services Librarian in 2015 having come from a public legislative library before becoming the Head of Reference, Instruction, and Engagement in the law library prior to accepting her current position. She received a B.A. from Hofstra University, a J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and an M.L.I.S. from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She is a member of the Massachusetts State Bar and the Rhode Island State Bar. Prior to becoming a law librarian, Nicole practiced real estate law. Her areas of interest are DEIB pedagogy in law school, mass incarceration, and access to justice.

Dr. Taino Palermo is an educator and advocate working to address issues in policy and practice in the areas of organizational leadership, community and economic development, and urban education over the last twenty years. Dr. Palermo served as department chair of both the Community Development and Healthy Communities degree programs at Roger Williams University’s University College where he founded the state’s first and only graduate degree in Community Development. In 2019, Dr. Palermo left that role to pursue a law degree at Roger Williams University School of Law to better advocate for the Taino Indians of Puerto Rico. n 2022, Dr. Palermo co-founded the Center for Indigenous Peoples Rights, the east coast’s first and only pro bono law and policy center focused on the rights of indigenous peoples. Dr. Palermo’s areas of specialty include community and economic development, American Indian and international indigenous peoples rights, and education policy and practice reform. 

Dr. Kerri Ullucci was born and raised in Rhode Island. She is a former elementary teacher and has been licensed to teach in RI, MA and CA. In her last classroom position, she was a fourth grade teacher in South Providence. Dr. Ullucci is currently a professor of diversity and equity in education. Her research interests include race and poverty issues in schooling and the development of culturally relevant teaching practices. Dr. Ullucci has been published in several journals, including Urban Education, Race, Ethnicity and Education and Teacher Education Quarterly. She also prepares K-8 teachers for urban schools. Her book (with co-author Joi Spencer) Anti-Blackness at School: Creating Affirming Educational Spaces for African American Students was published in 2022, through Teachers College Press.

Samuel Filiaggi (he/him) is a 2L at Roger Williams University School of Law. From Batavia, Illinois, he graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2019 where he majored in marine affairs and minored in oceanography. Samuel also came out as a transgender man at the end of his undergraduate career. He eventually decided to attend law school in order to practice marine environmental law and advocate for social change. At RWU Law, he is enrolled in the Honors Program, the President of the Phi Alpha Delta chapter, the Treasurer for the LGBT+ Alliance, and on the Student Title IX Committee. As a research assistant to Professor Monica Teixeira de Sousa, Samuel investigates how BIPOC communities advocate for their education, which includes desegregating, ensuring adequate funding, and representing their experiences in curriculum. In the summer after his 1L year, Samuel was a legal intern for the Rhode Island Center for Justice on their housing team. There, he assisted attorneys with clients facing eviction, poor conditions, and other housing-related situations where individuals would not ordinarily have access to representation. When not studying law, Samuel enjoys nature photography, baking, sea chanteys, and taking care of his guinea pigs Cannoli and Biscotti.

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