Rhode Island Latino Arts | Latino Oral History Project has embarked in a public history project that celebrates people, places, and community life in three neighborhoods that are significant to the state’s Latino Community. We are hosting a series of pláticas (community conversations) that provide a forum for residents to share the rich and diverse layers of human experience that make each neighborhood so distinctive.
Participants will create three walking tours that are relevant to their neighborhoods: Broad Street and Cranston Street in Providence and Dexter Street in Central Falls.
An emphasis will be placed on locations relevant to Latinos in the three targeted communities, but all are welcome and all community stories will be incorporated.
For information, contact Marta V. Martínez at email@example.com
- + Párate y habla con alguien que no conoces | You never know who is going to inspire you
- September 19, 2018 | On La Broa'I went on my first community walking tour of the South Side of Providence this late September.
Walked “La Broa” una calle que yo creía que conocía hasta que conocí su historia.
I did not know that the first Latino family moved here in the mid 50’s!
Eramos cuatro personas caminando (Marta Martínez, Orlando Hernández, Marcel Mascaró y yo) and by the looks of it we were styled similarly like some type of Providence hybrid pop indie group. A banner in a well kept yard caught our attention, it read “Latino Chess Club Founded in the 70’s"
A woman peeped us looking into the yard, no dijo nada y entro a su casa.
Al minuto salió un Señor con una sonrisa de lo más amable,
Y dijo “María me dijo que había unos Americanos mirando el patio” .
Mind you we were all Latinx una Cubana una Mexicana un Boricua y un Dominicano.
Have we been in downtown for so long, que ya pareciamos Americanos!
En esa misma semana yo acababa de obtener un trabajo que todavía no había comenzado. En una Industria en la cual yo nunca había directamente trabajado. Imposter syndrome was reigning. Yo tenia unos nervios, me sentía inseguro para decir poco.
(Back to the Story)
Manuel Jiménez nos comenzó a contar su historia, nos contó que llegó a Providence cuando tenía 29 años en los 70’s. Se dedicaba a la agricultura en un campo de la República Dominicana. Cuando llegó, consiguió un trabajo en una factoría en el cual solo pudo aguantar las condiciones del trabajo por una semana. He was offered an opportunity to learn English at an African American organization who was helping newly arrived immigrants learn English while getting paid a stipend. Manuel learned some English and in a few months he was coming toward the end of his course. The instructors at the center said to him that they would appoint him to be a social worker. Manuel miró para los dos lados, “Como quien dice, Yo??!” He only had farming experience back home and knew nothing about being a social worker, but he took the chance.
He listened to the community in his new role. He noticed that the community’s main complaint was that there were no Spanish interpreters in the nearby hospitals (St. Joseph’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital). Manuel was part of a group that organized a silent protest in the hospital demanding that they get Spanish interpreters in the hospitals. It took time but the group eventually got the FIRST! Spanish interpreters in the hospitals of the South Side of Providence. They later moved the fight to DMV and made changes there.
Aquí hubo un hombre cual la vida le puso una gran oportunidad y responsabilidad en sus manos, la acepto/lucho y mira lo tanto que logró por su gente y por generaciones to come.
He did it, why can't I? Thank you, Manuel Jimenez, for the inspiration. Teleported elder wisdom.
- + Manejar la Cranston Street no es Facil
- October 1, 2018 | La CranstonJack Fruit at Sky MarketManejar la Cranston Street no es facil, it feels like you have just traveled back to Santo Domingo en hora pico. But something is for sure, it is a street that is alive but it’s pulse can only be felt once you get out of your vehicle and walk it.
We finally decided to walk Cranston St. as part of our community walking tours of the West End of Providence. Joann Ayuso, who lives on the square of Dexter Park, or el parque del castillo, joined Marta Martinez and myself.
We all had our own connection to Cranston street.
I had worked there for a year running a cell phone shop where I sold mixtapes back in the day, and Joann knew about a delicious Puerto Rican bakery on the street.
The street is rich in restaurants and everything else you might need. There are Mexican and Dominican restaurants, food trucks, pizzerias y barbershops de cada lado de la calle.
We entered “Sky Market” a South East Asian market where I saw the biggest Jackfruits that I have ever seen, and cooking ingredients I had yet to set eyes on. We window shopped and still got smiles from everyone that worked there. We will be back.
To end our walk we entered Carmita’s Puerto Rican Bakery. Joann, who is of Puerto Rican descent, I heard speak full on Spanish for the first time since I’ve met her, when she entered the space. The couple that attended the bakery were as sweet as the desserts they baked. The Señor who came to bring my pressed pork sandwich to the table laid his left hand on my back and said “Papi quieres algo de tomar” in such a tender way that I felt like family. The bakery felt like a portal into our childhood.
Volveremos la próxima semana, hopefully we will meet someone who has lived there for a long time and can tell us cuentos of “La Cranston.”