The annual Red Bandana awards event, which honors the legacy of social activist and journalist Richard Walton, drew a huge crowd yesterday to Nick-a-Nees in Providence’s Jewelry District for an afternoon of music, fellowship and honors.
Winners of the Red Bandana awards this year were given to Providence College Professor Eric Hirsh for his work with the homeless and to the workers at the Renaissance Hotel who have been organizing for a union.
The event was headlined by fab performances by the Gnomes and the Extraordinary Rendition Band. Bill Harley did a fine job as master of all things. Steve Graham, Harley and the Red Bandana Committee did their usual great job organizing the event and the pot luck dinner accommodated just about every culinary tradition.
In attendance were Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo, Dr. Mike Fine, former state health director, storyteller Len Cabral, Rev. Duane Clinker and many, many other friends and acquaintances of Richard Walton.
Walton, who died in 2013, was a veteran journalist, writer, peace and social justice activist who dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate and advocating for a more peaceful state, nation and world. A passionate man who embraced life in all its contradictions, he loved sports, music, politics, food and journalism and served as a mentor to generations of Rhode Islanders who seek a better world.
A Brown University graduate, Walton was also an adjunct professor at Rhode Island College who was a leader of the union representing part-time professors.
Each year around this time, Walton hosted a big gathering at his home in Pawtuxet Village. There was always music, tables groaning with home made food, great conversation and a reunion of sorts for Richard’s many, many friends. The event was also a fund-raiser for many of the good causes Richard supported, especially Amos House, where he was a veteran volunteer.