Watch Arthur “Archie” Johnson Create Space for Southside Youth and Families

Founder, Rosa Parks Resource Center

Tell us about yourself, your connection to Providence, and your work.

Born and raised in Providence, I am a father of three children and husband to Mayra Soto-Johnson. I am the founder of the Rosa Parks Resource Center and media platform Teen Connect, as well as the co-founder of Culture Fest RI and Peace and Love Day. I love farming at Bami Farm, where we grow veggies and educate the community about the importance of growing their own food and eating healthily.

What’s your motivation for doing this work?

The planned Rosa Parks Community Resource Center, at a former mosque and adjoining building on Prairie Avenue, is a needed solution for youth and families, especially Black and Brown Rhode Islanders in forgotten, underfunded, and neglected Providence communities. Programs tailored to our needs are few and far between. We need a place for us, and it can’t just be a gymnasium to play basketball in. Our Black and Brown families and children deserve a safe place owned by people who look like them where we can grow together, get resources, and have outlets for youth to learn new skills, be creative, and foster their brilliance.

In what ways do you hope to leave an impact on our city in the coming months?

The Rosa Parks Center will have a multipurpose room where community meetings can be held and resources for job opportunities, health options, and housing information can be found. There will also be a classroom with computers for youth of color to learn key job and life skills, an art gallery, and a state-of-the-art recording studio. Through Teen Connect, I also aspire to amplify the voices of the younger generation by providing a platform for their perspectives.


What challenges do you anticipate having to overcome in 2024 to achieve these goals?

Too often community organizations have to compete with each other for funding, and it makes it harder to collaborate. We all know that we can have a greater impact when we come together, but resources are so scarce, and that makes it challenging.

What’s your reason for optimism approaching 2024?

With the opening of the Rosa Parks Resource Center bringing much-needed services and programs, I have a reason to be optimistic. We’re building community with the people of South Providence and creating a space where people can ask for help with dignity.




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