Joanne’s Journey to Stages of Freedom Bookstore


It’s that time of year again when we think of giving to those in need. It may be a cause you believe in or a charity that is near and dear to your heart. Whatever the reason, it always makes us feel good to give back. It’s Thanksgiving week and the best way to give thanks is to be able to do something good in your community.

I was invited to tour the “Stages of Freedom” bookstore at 10 Westminster street in downtown Providence. The bookstore is run by former State Representative Ray Rickman and Robb Dimmick, both of which have devoted their lives to the empowerment and development of youth of color and the community in general through powerful cultural programs.

Whether it be introducing young people to the city arts or raising money to teach minority children how to swim, these two gentlemen work daily to enrich the lives of youth of color with the arts and cultures of times gone by.

I visited the “Stages of Freedom” bookstore on a Saturday to see the jewelry collection that has been donated to the store for sale. I was quickly impressed with the set up of the store which has a quaint look of an old antique shop. There are many different kinds of books which adorn the  shelves as well as  antiques and art. You never know what hidden treasure you will find in a store like this, so it is worth the look. There were so many little knick knacks that I didn’t know what to look at first.

There was a beautiful collection of jewelry which was donated to the bookstore for sale. Many pieces were rhinestone pins and it reminded me of the costume jewelry my mother used to make when she worked in the jewelry industry long ago. Many do not remember that Providence was considered the “Jewelry Capital” in its day when Coro Manufacturing and Monet were here. I felt like I went back in time as I looked over the estate pieces.

My eyes immediately went toward a vintage blue and white stone bracelet, which was very old and beautiful. I had to have it! One of the most different pieces was a vintage  elephant pocket mirror. I also picked out a silver heart bracelet with black onyx chips. Also, there was a small beautiful crystal jewelry box with a crystal cardinal bird on top. I looked it up and it is a hofbauer Byrdes crystal trinket box! 

The prices were very inexpensive, ranging from $5.00 to $20.00 per item. All proceeds go to swimming lessons for minority youth, through the Swim Empowerment program.

Stages of Freedom” is a  non-profit organization that promotes and celebrates African American culture for the entire community and provides programs to empower youth of inner city minority children. The bookstore has a museum which showcases our state’s African American history with changing exhibits, and the event space features the Freedom Factor, a monthly salon exploring African American life in Rhode Island. They also have many cultural events. The next event will be a Holiday concert at RISD museum on December 2, 2018 at 2:00 PM. All proceeds will benefit the swimming program. 

So if you are feeling thankful and in a giving mood, take a journey to the “Stages of Freedom” bookstore. There is something there for everyone and you never know what goodies you will find while you give back a little something to the community!

Happy Thanksgiving!🦃 

Joanne Giannini
Joanne Giannini is a former State Representative from Providence. A freelance journalist, consultant and writer, she has previously written commentary for The Providence journal, GolocalProv and WPRO radio. Contact her at