In celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday, the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society this week announced that it will host a presentation “FREEDOM IS NOT ENOUGH: The Life and Times of Reverend Mahlon Van Horne.” The virtual presentation is free of charge and will be held on Monday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.

Van Horne was pastor of the Union Colored Congregational Church in Newport and would become the first elected person of color to a Rhode Island School Committee in 1872 and state General Assembly in 1885. Like Rev. Martin Luther King a century later, Van Horne was an influential religious, civil rights, and political leader of his day.

All attendees of the lecture hosted online, will receive a print copy of his sermon, entitled “The Negro in Rhode Island: His Past, Present, and Future.” This sermon, delivered to his congregation and later distributed around the state, provides a rare and important insight into Rhode Island’s history of religious freedom, civil liberties, and equal justice from an African heritage perspective. Many of Van Horne’s insights are still relevant in today’s civil rights discussion. 

The Society will also distribute copies of the speech to any Rhode Island K-12 school and library that would like a copy. 

Register for the Zoom lecture at

Educators requesting the printed sermon who do not attend the presentation should email with the subject line “Sermon.”

About the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society 

The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, formed in 1975, is one of America’s oldest African heritage and historical organizations. Constituted for the purposes of collecting, preserving, and interpreting materials relating to the history of the African Heritage people of Rhode Island and beyond. 

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.