One of Rhode Island's great virtues is its remarkably rich mix of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Since Roger Williams' famed arrival in 1636, Rhode Island has served as home for generations of immigrants and refugees from every one of the world's continents. The world Roger Williams imagined embraced true tolerance, and in many ways our Ocean State his lived up to this noteworthy virtue. Alas, there are exceptions – exceptions that test the depth of Rhode Islanders' belief in Roger Williams' ideals, a challenge with echoes in this essay by Padma Venkatraman.
Padma Venkatraman, an oceanographer by training, is the author of a number of books, focused especially on young readers. She lives with her family in Narragansett, Rhode Island.