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The Lark: Vol 2, Issue 5, July 2022



“Why didn’t I learn about this history in school?” “Where can I learn more?” “What can I do?” These are the questions that many LLC members have been asking ourselves since the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and historical studies like the 1619 Project and Providence’s A Matter of Truth heightened our awareness of the country’s shocking history of slavery and bias and abuses toward marginalized communities.

In April 2021, LLC President Joe Fisler recruited an ad hoc committee to promote and expand learning opportunities that enable the LLC organization and membership to better understand, celebrate, learn from, support, and include diverse communities.  “We wanted to identify, and capitalize on, the wealth of relevant experience, knowledge and networks that already exist within the LLC membership,” Fisler explains. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee currently includes Barbara Barnes, Patricia Becker, Sheila Brush, Joe Fisler, Jodi Glass, Diana Grady, Mark Guyer, Joan Hausrath, Lois Kemp, Vanessa Leland, Roberta Segal, Nondas Voll and Phil Weinstein.

The Committee defines diversity broadly to include race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, language, geographical origin, gender and/or sexual orientation and physical disabilities. It sees itself as a “think tank” for generating ideas and identifying opportunities around diversity, equity and inclusion that could be implemented by the LLC’s Membership, Curriculum, Cultural Events and Public Relations Committees.

“It’s clear that LLC members are deeply concerned by current events and are seeking opportunities to learn about, and discuss, America’s history of racism and current issues around equity and inclusion for marginalized groups and to find ways to become engaged,” said Fisler. He pointed out that over the past two years more than 226 members registered for 11 different classes on DEI-related topics; 76 participants joined three over-subscribed walking tours about the different communities who lived on Benefit Street and about the

African American and indigenous people of Wickford; 476 viewers watched 7 webinars on related topics; and, despite challenges presented by covid, the LLC’s new tutoring program placed 8 tutors at Providence’s Veazie Street School during the spring semester. The Committee’s job is to help LLC continue to respond to this demonstrated interest.

Over the last 15 months, the DEI Committee has provided information and articles for The Lark, LLC’s bi-monthly on-line newsletter; sponsored a webinar on Trinity Theater’s production of the August Wilson play Gem of The Ocean and suggested webinar speakers; linked the LLC with other organizations, such as the RI Black Heritage Society, the Providence NAACP, the Village Commons and Stages of Freedom. Through class announcements and Lark articles, the Committee has also kept the LLC membership informed about the Dorcas International Institute’s work with Afghan refugees and about donations needed to support arriving families.

What other initiatives are in the future? The Committee is developing a series of webinars about Providence’s initiatives to address current inequities in such areas as housing, health, public education, and policing. The Committee wants to establish a calendar on the LLC website to keep LLC members informed about the many other non-LLC events, talks, tours and on-line programs taking place. Recognizing that past classes have generated a wealth of resources in the form of bibliographies and PowerPoint presentations, the Committee also hopes to use the website to make these resources available to all LLC members. Finally, the Committee is looking at how LLC can publicize its programming widely to attract members and webinar participants from throughout Rhode Island’s diverse communities.

LLC members interested in learning how to be involved with LLC’s DEI initiatives can contact Sheila Brush at [email protected].



by Sheila Brush


The Providence Branch of the NAACP held its 109th Annual Freedom Fund Breakfast on Saturday, May 21, at the Providence Marriott.  After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the event drew a record crowd of 370 attendees – 120 more than last attended in 2019.  The enthusiastic audience included an LLC table organized by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee.

NAACP Chapter President James Vincent hosted the breakfast and welcomed the many community leaders of color in attendance. Emceed by NBC-10’s Barbara Morse Silva, the program included remarks by Senator Jack Reed, Representative David Cicilline and Mayor Jorge Elorza.  Performances by two young people from Music One, an enrichment program that empowers youth by cultivating their talents in writing music and performing, brought the house down.

Providence College basketball coach Ed Cooley gave a warm and personal keynote address. His memories of difficult and good times growing up in Providence drew many nods from the audience.  He thanked the mentors who contributed to his own success and spoke passionately about his commitment to the community and how much it means to him to help young people.  Fresh off his 2022 recognition as Big East Coach of the Year and Naismith Coach of the Year, Cooley shared with the audience that while he is proud of his achievements as a coach, being addressed as “Coach Cooley” means less to him than being recognized as a person and addressed as “Ed.”

The LLC members who attended this year hope that more members will join us next year in supporting the NAACP.


Where learning never gets old


Think you're too old for school? Not at Providence's Lifelong Learning Collaborative


Amy Russo
City Reporter and Columnist at The Providence Journal

"My college years couldn’t have ended fast enough. I was eager to jump into the working world. In fact, I already had.

While writing for two local New York City newspapers back then — both of which have since folded, in a sign of the times — some days I plotted out how many classes I’d be able to miss to cover a story before tanking my GPA.

Seeing friends and colleagues flash fancy master's degrees on résumés always left some part of me wanting to go back, but the price tag, and the weight of loans I’ve yet to pay off, have left me feeling that the extra academics might not be for everyone.

At the Lifelong Learning Collaborative, they are." Read the full article here.



What did you like about our courses? – Part Two

In a recent Lark issue we shared some of the survey comments class members made about the “Get Fit at Home” course.  Here are some comments about recent current events and politics courses:

I liked both the depth of the material presented and the good work done by the presenters.

I enjoyed the interesting observations by extremely well-educated participants, and the informal discussion of issues.

I felt privileged to be in a class with so many distinguished people who all had wonderful and insightful experience in this topic

The coordinator is an expert at guiding discussions, he lets the conversation flow yet knows when to jump in to make sure we stay on topic

Everyone was encouraged to participate—friendly group, different viewpoints, good exchange of ideas

You can join the fun, add to the discussions, gain new knowledge and new friends!  Please encourage your non-LLC friends to enroll with you!


Save the Date

LLC’s 1st Grand Convocation (since Covid)
Thursday, September 8, 2022
11 AM-1 PM
Temple Beth-El*

 Join old friends and new for fellowship, lunch, and a live musical performance.

 *There will also be a Zoom option for members that are unable to attend in-person. 

More details to be announced shortly. 


August 4th, 6pm: A Providence Story of Urban Renewal

Join us with historian Keith Stokes as we explore urban renewal within the context of downtown Providence. Beginning on South Main Street, we will meander through the past, present and future of Fox Point, the Jewelry District and Downtown Providence with a particular focus on the experiences of African heritage and Indigenous communities and other residents of color. The talk will be structured in three parts: historical context, current developments, and what the future might hold. The tour will end on the west side of the Pedestrian bridge, just in time for a musical performance brought to you by PVD World Music.

We will meet at the corner of South Main Street and Wickenden Street at 6pm to begin the tour.

Register here for this free event.