African American Ambassadors Group
Mayor Elorza began meeting regularly with the African American Ambassador Group on May 14 to discuss the disproportionate number of African Americans impacted by COVID-19. The group has since evolved to meet weekly and discuss and advance a social justice agenda for the City of Providence.
We envision a future where racial, social, and economic equity is achieved for African Americans in Providence, and where our government and institutions represent and empower the African American community.
The African American Ambassadors Group protects, uplifts, celebrates, and empowers the African American community in Providence by developing and advancing City of Providence policies that dismantle oppressive systems and extinguish racial, social, and economic equity gaps for African Americans.
Truth, Reconciliations and Reparations
First, the City will work to identify the Truth by examining the role of the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence in supporting the institution of slavery, the genocide of Indigenous People, forced assimilation, and seizure of land, among other policies. As part of this first step, local and state laws will be reviewed. This will include a review of all other forms of public and private sector discrimination against people of African or Indigenous heritage and their descendants up to the present day. Once the collection of Truth is completed, findings will be used to begin the process of Reconciliation. Residents, organizations and institutions will be engaged in discussing these Truths, with the aim of appreciating the resiliency of the Black, Indigenous People and People of Color in Providence and to better understand the ways these injustices continue to impact residents today. Through the last step of this process, Reparations, the City will take measures to reverse the injuries resulting from the Truth findings and advise what appropriate policies, programs, and projects may be executed based on recommendations that accomplish this mission. These will also work to address local laws and policies that continue negatively impact Black, Indigenous People, and People of Color in Providence.
This Executive Order commits the City to undertake a process but does not pre-define what that process should look like, or what the outcomes will be. The African American Ambassador Group, which meets with the Mayor weekly, will guide the Mayor’s Office on what body will carry this work forward, and who will be a part of that body.
African American Ambassador (AAAG) Subgroups
To become a national model for African American and African-Diaspora culture that effectively provides the necessary services, programs, and engages the community in our Education for a truly Equitable Education System.
The mission of the African American Sub-Group on Police Accountability is to create positive changes in our Police Department to create a safer community for residents and police.
A strong voice for BIPOC members of Providence in advocating for city and state level equitable housing policies and practices that are data-driven and resident-oriented.
OUR Work to Date
- On June 19, 2020, Mayor Elorza joined City Council President Sabina Matos, Councilwoman Mary K. Harris, Community Relations Advisor Shawndell Burney-Speaks, Bishop Jeffery Williams, members of the Mayor’s African American Ambassador Group and community members to sign an Executive Order removing the term “plantations” from all City documents and oath ceremonies.
- The announcement was made on the 155th year anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. For this year’s celebration, the City partnered with the JuneteenthRI Committee to raise the pan-African flag on Providence City Hall.
- On Tuesday, June 23rd, after feedback from members of the African American Ambassador Group and community members, Mayor Elorza announced his order of the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from its current location in the Elmwood neighborhood to an undetermined future location. The City’s Special Committee for Commemorative Works will advise on the next destination of the statue.
- On July 15, 2020, Mayor Elorza, joined by members of the African American Ambassadors Group and community members, enacted a community-driven Executive Order committing the City to a process of Truth, Reconciliation, and municipal Reparations for Black, Indigenous People, and People of Color in Providence.
- On March 8, 2021, the National League of Cities (NLC) selected four municipalities for their innovative programs promoting inclusivity and diversity as the winners of its 2021 Cultural Diversity Awards. The City of Providence AAAG received this national accreditation.
- On March 29 2021, Mayor Elorza joined 1696 Heritage Group Vice President Keith Stokes, Truth-telling and Reconciliation Subgroup Members Raymond Two Hawks Watson and BJ Murray, Senior Advisor Shawndell Burney-Speaks and community members to announce the African American Ambassadors Group (AAAG) Truth-Telling report: A Matter of Truth. The report includes a comprehensive analysis of the role of the City of Providence and State of Rhode Island in supporting a “separate and unequal” existence for African heritage, Indigenous, and people of color.
- On June 15, 2021, Mayor Elorza joined community members to declare Juneteenth a City holiday to recognize the emancipation of slavery and honor the history, perseverance, and achievements of Black Americans. Read the Executive Order.