RI Slave History medallion to be installed near Barrington monument

East Bay

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The wording on a slave monument in Barrington has stirred up controversy, so much so that the town’s Cemetery Commission had to decide Tuesday whether it should be removed.

The plaque is tucked in the corner of Prince’s Hill Cemetery and reads, “In memory of the slaves and their descendants who faithfully served Barrington families.”

While some residents have raised concerns over the phrasing on the monument, members of the Barrington Cemetery Commission believe it’s not offensive toward slaves.

“The language is old,” Cemetery Commission Chairman Stephen Kirby said during a virtual meeting Tuesday. “The language is the language that we spoke in 1909.”

The Cemetery Commission opted not to remove the plaque, but instead to install a medallion next to it that honors slave history.

Charles Roberts, the chairman of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions, told 12 News back in July the significance of the medallions.

“We want to tell these stories so that people in the future will know our true history,” he said.

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Kirby said it would cost approximately $2,500 to purchase a medallion. It would have a QR code on it that visitors could scan to access more information about Barrington’s slave history and the plaque itself.

Members of the Cemetery Commission agreed to reach out to the Barrington Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Genealogical Society to learn more about the town’s slave history.

Kirby said it could take anywhere from a couple of months to a year to gather the information and have the medallion installed.

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