Rachel Cassidy, Faculty


In this interview, Rachel Cassidy, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University, discusses her experiences leading up to and participating in one of the Black Lives Matter protests in Providence, Rhode Island, following the murder of George Floyd.

Cassidy begins by recalling when she first heard George Floyd’s name and learned of the protests happening across the United States. She remembers witnessing one of the first protests in early June 2020 outside of her apartment in downtown Providence. She describes watching peaceful protesters, celebrating a friend’s birthday during the day, and returning to a quiet street at night. She goes on to describe waking up to sounds of broken glass and chaos early the next morning as rioters and looters spread across the city. Cassidy explains her frustration at media for focusing more on the riots than the peaceful protests and wanting to participate in the next protest to demonstrate her support for Black Lives Matter and to represent her city.

Cassidy details participating in the next protest, noting some of the chants, speeches, and signs. She also discusses the National Guard presence and compared it to other marches she previously attended. She emphasizes that nearly everyone wore a mask to protect themselves and each other against COVID-19. In closing, she considers why this moment in the country’s history saw a rise in the fight against police brutality and racial injustice. She implores everyone to remember that the majority of protests were peaceful and represented a unity among a diverse group of citizens in support of Black Lives Matter.


Recorded on June 16, 2020 via Zoom
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD‘94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Cassidy, Rachel. Interview. By Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. June 16, 2020.


Rachel N. Cassidy, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2013, where she investigated nicotine’s effects on behavior using animal models of addiction. Dr. Cassidy arrived in Providence in 2014 for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction studies at Brown University, and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2014. Her work focuses on assessing the impact of tobacco control policies designed to reduce smoking and tobacco use on adolescent health. She is also interested in young adult substance use generally, and how substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis interact to create synergistic effects and problems in young people.