This Report from the Field is a post-mortem reflection on a statewide memorialization project on slavery that ultimately failed. In this essay, I attribute the failure of the project in large part to conflicting historical approaches and claims to narrative authority over the representation of a specifically Rhode Island image of slavery. Although the organization studied here no longer exists, other nascent grassroots organizations dedicated to the memorialization of slavery and grappling with issues of emerging narratives and competing claims to local memory may derive benefit from my analysis and the proposed “scaffolded conversations” with which I conclude.

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