Edward Mitchell Bannister was a noted Providence artist, philanthropist, intellectual and personality during the latter part of the 19th Century. After he won a national award—a First Prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition—his honor was withheld when jurors learned of his African heritage. His artistic talent prevailed, however, and he not only received the award but went on to help build Providence into a New England cultural center. In 1880 he became a driving force in establishing the Providence Art Club.
Due to Bannister's many significant contributions to Providence, Brown University restored his house on Benevolent Street. Another street, formerly named for a slave trader, was renamed in honor of Bannister and his philanthropic wife, Christiana. The RISD Museum houses many Bannister works.
Now, working in partnership with the Providence community and its leaders, the Providence Art Club is helping lead another fitting tribute to the artist: a bronze statue of him that will sit at Market Square on the Providence River.