Sessions (detailed descriptions)


  1. We, the People: Voices of the Immigrant City (
    Led by Mark Cutler, Phillips Academy

    This blog is the result of a vibrant collaboration between youths and adults committed to community development and to the idea that there one, single story does not define a place. Vision for the project came from Steve Garcia and Chris Benitez, of Movement City in Lawrence. They shared it with Mark Cutler, Spanish instructor at Phillips Academy, who does community work in Lawrence with his students. Steve and Chris wanted to show through a documentary the different sides of Lawrence, images and stories not often given equitable treatment in the mainstream press. Through various iterations, in collaboration with students from Phillips Academy Andover, Lawrence High School, Lawrence High School-MST teacher Cesar Sanchez Beras, Movement City and Lawrence History Center, the session will discusses how the blog tells stories of the new Hispanic immigration into Lawrence.

  2. Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts
    Presented by Marcia Drew Hohn EdD, Director, and Denzil Mohammed, MS, Assistant Director, The Public Education Institute at The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.

    This session discusses the role of contemporary immigrant entrepreneurs in MA and Lawrence. It will include an overview of the economic and social benefits immigrant businesses bring to the Commonwealth based on ILC-commissioned research studies about immigrant businesses. Findings include such benefits as revitalizing blighted neighborhoods, creating jobs, and providing a diverse array of goods and services. The ILC recognizes the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs through its annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Dinner that honors immigrant business owners. It is telling that a significant number of winners and nominees come from Lawrence. Three of these immigrant business owners will be part of a panel describing their businesses. The panel will provide an opportunity to hear the stories of immigrant entrepreneurs.

  3. Resilient Minds: Statistics and Stories on the Impact of Unauthorized Immigration
    Presented by Professor María Idalí Torres, Director, Gaston Institute and Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology; Professor Phillip Granberry, Research Associate, Gaston Institute and Lecturer, Department of Economics; Daniela Bravo, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Gaston Institute; Professor Jean Edwards, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing (all UMass Boston).

    Nationally, three of four foreign-born residents are Latinos. In Massachusetts, one of three Latino residents is foreign born. The Gaston Institute has researched the MA Latino immigrant experience over the past 20 years. Using data from a community-based survey of unauthorized immigrants, the session will compare the socio-demographic and health characteristics of Dominicans and Brazilians in the Greater Boston area, including Lawrence. Behind most statistics about unauthorized immigrants, there are always personal stories of resilience and inspiration. One of our undergraduate students will share her own journey to highlight the impact of unauthorized immigration on the mental health of immigrant children, and its implications for human services providers. The session will also include a comparison of the experience of unauthorized immigrants in MA and Kentucky.

  4. Life after ICE: New Bedford’s Central Americans and the 2007 Immigration Raid
    Roundtable discussion with Lisa Knauer, associate professor of anthropology at UMass Dartmouth, a co-founder of the Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores; Adrian Ventura, executive director of the Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores; and immigrant worker-activists from New Bedford.

    In March 2007, over 500 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, together with state and local police and the Coast Guard, raided the Michael Bianco factory in New Bedford, a Department of Defense contractor. Inside, a workforce comprised primarily of undocumented Central Americans was making leather backpacks for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. ICE took 361 persons into detention, where many languished for months. About 100 were deported –some because they lacked adequate legal counsel, and some because they became despondent or desperate and signed voluntary orders. Most of the rest eventually returned to New Bedford. Many still have pending legal cases, while some have gained legal status. This roundtable brings together scholarly research and first-hand perspectives to explore the impact of the raid on the Central American community in New Bedford, focusing principally on the Maya K’iche’ population, as over 200 of those detained were Guatemalan Maya, who comprise the majority of the city’s Central American population.

  5. Operation Bootstrap, Inc.
    Led by Edward Tirrell, Director

    Bootstrap, which currently works with adult learners from some 40 different countries, will offer a presentation on immigration from the immigrants’ perspective. Bootstrap students will present stories of their journeys to Lynn and the challenges they face today.

  6. Collaborations and Urban Revitalization in Gateway Cities: The Working Cities Challenge Project
    Presented by Ramón Borges-Méndez, Coordinator Community Development & Planning Program, IDCE, James R. Gomes, Director, The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise Clark University; Jess Andors, Lawrence Community Works (Representing the Lawrence Working Families Initiative, the only city to receive the maximum $700,000 award in January 2014)

    A century ago, it would have been difficult to predict the economic growth pathway and the actual socio-demographic landscape of “gateway cities” in New England. As the cradle of the American industrial revolution, between the 1830s and the early 1920s, they were primary engines of regional and national economic expansion. By the mid-1920s, their economic dynamism dramatically slowed. The textile industry moved to the South due to changes in the country’s industrial infrastructure and labor militancy, and the US severely restricted immigration by establishing quotas. This set the stage for fifty-years of “stop-and-go” cycles of revival and decline, which ‘locked’ these cities into a downward pathway towards decline and abandonment. Between 1970 and mid-1980s, a second massive wave of deindustrialization, at that point engulfing the entire nation, dealt a final blow to these cities remaining manufacturing jobs.

    Then regional, national, and international turmoil turned these cities into the destination of newer populations coming from the large urban centers of the Northeast, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The pace, scale and diversity of immigration and outmigration from these cities, still besieged by the sequels of deindustrialization and institutional neglect, has turned them into challenging spaces of policy making, revitalization, and collaboration. Most of these cities contend with a limited capacity to reactivate their economies and neighborhoods. The session will address three questions: What kind of research is necessary to address the needs of gateway cities? What kinds of indicators are necessary to assess the impact of collaborations on urban revitalization? How can research and indicators serve to institutionalize better policy practices?

  7. The Same, or Different?
    Presented by Avi Chomsky, Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, Salem State University

    This presentation will look at today’s immigration from Latin America in comparison to the last large wave of immigration, from southern and eastern Europe. In general, pro-immigrant voices have emphasized similarities between today’s immigrants and those of a century ago, while anti-immigrant voices have emphasized differences. However, ethnic studies approaches have also looked at differences between the migrant experience of people of color, and debated how and where the boundaries of whiteness have been drawn over time. I will look at global, economic, legal, and racial structures that help us understand what today’s immigration shares with the past, and how it differs, with a particular focus on New England.

  8. Lowell’s Immigrant Communities: Teaching Their Stories
    Lowell National Historical Park and Tsongas Industrial History Center, Celeste Bernardo, Superintendent LNHP and Sheila Kirschbaum, Director, TIHC

    In 1977, the Lowell Historic Canal District Commission released its report to Congress recommending the establishment of a “National Cultural Park” in Lowell. The report noted, “Lowell’s people have retained many of the ethnic neighborhoods, folkways and lifestyles which characterized the city’s 19th century development.” Telling their stories would “show how industrialization influenced people’s lives, and how it helped to create our modern society.” Thirty-five years later, the number of residents who retain traditional associations with Lowell’s textile industry is shrinking. At the same time, Lowell’s neighborhoods still attract immigrants and refugees, but from different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. How the Park and TIHC tell Lowell’s new immigrant story to adults and students utilizing oral histories, artifacts, discussion, and neighborhood walking tours will be the focus of our presentation. Session attendees will learn about the TIHC’s immigrant role-playing activities.

    Caribbean Connections Program in Salem, MA
    Presented by Beth Beringer, Essex National Heritage Commission, and Maryann Zujewski, Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites

    In the summer and fall of 2012 ENHC partnered with the Settlement Association associated with the House of Seven Gables and the Salem public schools to engage 25 of Salem’s Dominican-American youth in exploring historic and present-day connections between Salem and the Caribbean. While important historic ties between the regions exist, they are not widely interpreted at area historic and cultural sites. This program solicited the help of Middle School aged Salem public school children for whom English is not a first language to better understand how cultural organizations, including Salem Maritime National Historic Site, might more successfully engage with the city’s significant Dominican population. At the same time, the program served as an enrichment experience. While increased literacy was a goal for the students and English vocabulary was emphasized, much of the program was intentionally conducted in Spanish, allowing students to do a deep dive into complex, rigorous content that is relevant to their lives and beneficial to their academic development. Essex Heritage’s presentation for the New Immigration Symposium includes a description of the program, with special attention to “lessons learned” and enduring impacts of the program that could be transferable to other cities.

  9. Lawrence’s First Transnational Immigrants: the French-Canadians
    Presented by Jim Beauchesne, Visitor Services Supervisor, Lawrence Heritage State Park

    Observers of contemporary immigration increasingly use the term “transnational” to describe the bi-culturalism of many of today’s immigrants, who maintain a solid footing in their homeland culture due to modern developments such as air transportation, the internet, cable television, and other communication advances. This presentation offers an earlier example of a transnational immigrant community, the French-Canadians of Lawrence and New England. A border culture, French-Canadians were a one-day train ride from their ancestral homeland, Quebec. Many made the trip. Furthermore their community cultural leaders were Roman Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers from orders based in Canada, and who were mostly educated in Canada. French-Canadians also brought with them an ethic of cultural survival, called “Survivance”, which was created after the British conquest and takeover of Canada. As a result, French- Canadian culture endured in Lawrence and elsewhere, delaying complete assimilation perhaps by a generation, and some would argue, also delaying economic progress.

    Old and New: Portuguese Labor Migrations and the Making of Industrial Massachusetts
    Presented by Shaun S. Nichols, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University

    This presentation seeks to answer a seemingly simple question: Why did so many Azorean farmers migrate to the industrial cities of the MA South Coast in the 1960s and 1970s? Why do the connections between migrant communities and the Azorean islands originally formed in the early-twentieth century remain so vibrant nearly half a century later? The answer to these questions, I argue, points to the machinations of two very different institutions: local capitalist “development groups” and the far-flung state apparatus of fascist Portugal. For their part, local capitalist “booster groups” in cities like Lawrence, New Bedford, and Fall River reacted to the economic devastation left in the wake early-twentieth-century textile deindustrialization by finding ways in which to advertise the economic problems of the area to mobile capitalists in search of cheap labor. Their efforts were, in purely economic terms, surprisingly successful. As a result, places like the South Coast, in which most of my research is focused, were not in the throes of secular economic decline in the 1960s—as they are often portrayed—but were steadily amassing a new store of electronics and garment firms throughout the mid-century era. The wave of Portuguese migration in the 1960s thus made for something of an economic boom in the area. But why had the cultural and migratory connections between the South Coast and Portugal remained so strong despite nearly 50 years of migratory stagnation? I suggest a radical answer: that the enduring relationship between Portuguese immigrants and their former home stemmed in part from the remarkably active role that the Portuguese state—specifically, Dictator António Salazar’s Estado Novo state apparatus—assumed in intervening in the lives of its emigrants abroad. This suggests the possibility that the enduring ethnic pride of the Portuguese people in a time rife with assimilationist pressure in part stemmed from the conscious efforts of the Portuguese state itself. Moreover, it suggests that the politics of sending states are often just as important as those of receiving states.

    The Impact on the Lawrence Lithuanian Community of a Post WWII Newly Arrived Lithuanian Immigration
    Presented by Jonas A. Stundzia, Chair, Lawrence Historical Commission

    Several times in the 20th century the US government has allowed special immigration legislation dealing with world crisis and political upheaval. The largest immigration relief was the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. This act authorized a limited time admittance of certain European displaced persons (DPs) for permanent residence. It was in response to the 9-10 million displaced persons living in Germany and surrounding countries. Over the next two years 200,000 DPs entered the US above the existing immigration quotas. In 1950 the law was extended for two more years, allowing the quota to increase to 415,000 people. The paper will cover how preference was given to individuals who were relatives of U.S. citizens and who could be incorporated into the labor force. The law’s implementation was assisted by religious and native ethnic groups. In Lawrence the existing Lithuanian community became the foundation of this chain immigration. It built upon the existing network of the Lithuanian Citizens Clubs and the two Lithuanian parishes. The social strife that existed within the community affected the newly arrived immigrants.

  10. Demographic Displacements in Lowell’s Lower Highlands from 1950 to 2000
    Presented by Mehmed Ali, Ph. D.

    Lowell, MA has, since its founding, welcomed newcomers and immigrants from across the globe have called the city home. The flux of human movement in and out of the old mill town though has not been without periodic strife. The Acre, for example, has provided a classic case in point where the original Irish settlers confronted later Greek immigrants – profiled most infamously in the 1915 Battle of the Knives. This paper looks at how immigrant groups—both long term and newcomers—have vied for space in the section of the city called the Lower Highlands, an area subject to numerous population shifts. In 1950, the neighborhood was predominantly French Canadian with a smaller mix of members from the Yankee, Jewish and Irish communities. By the 1970s, Latino families (primarily from Puerto Rico) had begun settling into the neighborhood causing a “white flight” from many of the long term residents. By the late-1990s, immigrants from Cambodia had largely supplanted Latinos. The shift occurred while the area, like many cities in the Northeast, was plagued with economic struggles and a rise in crime. After 1990 the problems in the Lower Highlands became acute. In 1994, an arsonist stalked the neighborhood causing fear, especially after the deaths of two young Cambodian children in one fire. Fighting between rival ethnic-based gangs led to violence and an unstable area. The essential “defeat” of the Latino gangs and the growth of the Asian population caused a population shift where many Puerto Rican and Dominican families moved to Lawrence.

    Greetings From Pleasant Valley
    Presented by Christine Lewis

    Over 100 years ago newly emigrated millworkers in Lawrence jumped at the opportunity to buy small plots of fertile land in Methuen’s Pleasant Valley. In 1906 Italian surnames began to appear on this area’s land records. Three short years later, journalists referred to Pleasant Valley as “Little Italy on the Merrimac.” The new landowners kept their day jobs and their city apartments, tending their gardens during their precious spare time. A shed, an arbor, an outhouse and a well were all the weekend farmers needed to run their tiny farms. Extended families pooled their financial resources and collective sweat equity and achieved their own version of the American dream –land ownership and a secure place to call home. By the 1960s, this once rural section of Pleasant Valley had transformed into the unplanned suburb we know today. One can still see evidence of the old ways through the backyard grape arbors grown wild. Modern facades and creative additions have absorbed the small self built sheds that once served as weekend retreats. Italians, Armenians, Lebanese and Poles applied old world agricultural knowledge with abundant, cheap land and reshaped a neighborhood. What events took place to make this possible? How did the existing community react to the changes? Where is the community today? These and other questions will be addressed after a presentation of what is already about Pleasant Valley. Artifacts, secondary research, family photos and first person histories will be used to tell the story.

    Learning from Each Other: The Rich Opportunities of Drawing on Immigrant Experience and Insights
    Presented by Linda Silka, University of Maine

    New England has opportunities that few other regions have at their disposal: to draw on the insights and experiences of immigrants to strengthen and diversify our regional economy. The question is how can we do so? Maine is trying to figure out what would be involved in attracting immigrants to the state. Maine needs new residents and families: Maine is rapidly aging (Maine is demographically now the oldest state in the nation) and is searching for ways to attract new residents—new families—to become Mainers. The discussion in Maine today is not unlike the discussion in Massachusetts two decades ago: can we become a place that invites people who are unlike “traditional” Mainers in some ways and very much like traditional Mainers in other ways. Maine is the “whitest” state in the country but it is also a highly agrarian state not unlike the rural countries from which many immigrants come. The question with which Mainers are struggling—and looking to places like Lawrence and Lowell for models—is how to become a welcoming state both by attending to Maine’s history yet not losing that same history. How do we not lose our focus on families, farms, and fishing but become a place open to new ideas and new cultures? This presentation will reflect on the opportunities and challenges involved in a statewide effort to reflect on change in paying attention to past immigrant experiences—largely Franco-American—while recognizing that new immigrants—such as the growing Somali communities—may bring new ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the state.

  11. Understanding Cambodian-American Youth Experience in Lowell
    Presented by Lianna Kushi, President, Board of Directors, Angkor Dance Troupe Inc.

    Representatives from the Angkor Dance Troupe will host an interactive workshop highlighting the following: Profile of Cambodian-American youth experience in Lowell: At-Risk yet At-Potential; Understanding the role of bi-cultural identity and fragmentation associated with Cambodian youth culture in Lowell (importance of ethnic identity, historical narrative, family strengthening, and communication); Tips, Tricks & Lessons learned from prevention programming with Cambodian youth (examples from Cambodian programs such as the Angkor Dance Troupe) Cambodian-American youth in Lowell, Massachusetts use cultural and social programs such as those offered by the Angkor Dance Troupe as a space to experience and understand their bicultural identities. Formed in Lowell in 1986 by Cambodian refugees who survived the Khmer Rouge Genocide the mission of the Angkor Dance Troupe is to connect communities through the preservation, education and innovation of Cambodian Performing Arts.

  12. The intersection of ‘the American and the Dominican’
    Presented by Joshua Abreu, Northern Essex Community College

    Mom landed in ‘81, where her ten aunts had already been living within the Dominican sanctuary: Washington Heights. Her dreams to become a doctor shifted to a supposedly better one, leaving her medicine studies at the University of Santo Domingo behind. The same unknown dream had been promised to the millions of immigrants that came before her. The Dominican journey was different. One could label it a stubborn assimilation, a defiant characteristic of a proud people. Immediately upon arrival many seek their own route to prosperity: some through education, some through illegal activities, and others through small businesses. Their influence is evident when you begin to look at the unique characteristics of a culture that has stamped itself in numerous cities and towns across the Northeast. The endless bodegas, barbershops, and salons are just a minor indication of the population’s innate ability to set up “mom and pop” shops on their journey to a promised prosperity. The pastel color schemes often used to illustrate these shops hints at a proud culture, one not shy to plaster their Caribbean hues without the slightest consideration to aesthetic cohesion. Mom’s path changed course in 1985 when she arrived in Lawrence, seven square miles imprinted with Dominican culture. By the time she began living in Lawrence, many were leaving the hustle and bustle of NYC for cities and towns in New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Lawrence soon proudly sported the highest per capita rate of Dominicans in any city in the U.S. Newcomers to these small cities began to accomplish goals from their American Dream checklist, such as the purchase of a house and self-employment. One can observe the intersection of ‘the American and the Dominican’ through the kinds of homes and businesses found in Lawrence.

    Presented by Marianne Caceres, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, Lawrence

    Immigration as defined by the dictionary is the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country. In recent years 40.1 million people have immigrated to the United States. People have come for many reasons, but are ultimately in search of “the American dream”. In 2001 my mother, my sister, and I came to the United States. We lived in the Dominican Republic and then traveled to Puerto Rico to eventually travel to MA. Upon arrival in the United States we lived a single room. My mother worked at all hours of the day at the mill and we girls were left in the care of a day-care provider. Life was never easy; this presentation will be is the story of my family. As a part of this oral history, I will describe the background of the Dominican Republic to familiarize myself with how my mother and aunt lived before coming to America. And, after having researched and studied how to conduct interviews, I will sit down and interview with my mother, Grace Corporan, and my aunt, Maria Sosa. I will ask questions like: What was life like before you arrived in the United States? Why did you choose to emigrate? How did your family react to your decision? What were your hopes for being in the United States? Questions such as these will allow me to get their full experience with immigration.

    How Did We Get Here: Two Lawrence Stories
    Presented by Sabrina Fernandez and Anabel Depeña, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, Lawrence

    Our backgrounds are completely different, but somehow we both ended up in the same city, in the same school. From the battles of World War II to the struggles of entrepreneurship both our families had one goal, acquiring the American dream. My name is Sabrina Fernandez, and my story begins in Wiesbaden, Germany where my grandfather was born. I am Anabel Depeña, and my story starts in Cerro Gord, Santiago, Dominican Republic where my great-aunt and her family lived during the time of Rafael Trujillo’s death, leaving the island in a state of great economy disaster. From minimal job offerings to a growing rate of poverty, the Dominican Republic was coming to its fall. Although we grew up in the same city, our roots go far beyond Lawrence. Our family’s immigration history tell stories about World War II, where Hitler forced Germans to fight for the Fatherland, even if they did not have the same views as he did, such as Sabrina’s great grandfather. Also the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and the outcome of his death leading to Hispanic immigrants in the United States, such as Anabel’s family. We would like to share these stories with the people of Lawrence and those of other areas.

  13. The Path: Fall of the Pemberton Mill as a Vehicle for High School Students to Learn about Lawrence’s Immigrant History
    Presented by Dan Koff, New Relic Media

    150 years ago Lawrence was undergoing a shift in its population from Yankee farm girls to immigrants (primarily from Ireland), and the collapse of the Pemberton Mill unveiled the tensions that this transition created. People’s perceptions of the new immigrants can be seen through the primary sources: in the receipts from the Relief Society, and from cartoons printed in illustrated newspapers of the day. Perhaps the most provocative of these documents was the image of an Irish man lighting his cigarette on the still burning timbers of the mill. My intention is to build scaffolding around The Path so it will be easier for teachers to take their students on a field trip to Lawrence. By choosing one object to research, students can read the provided material and become a sage on the street while on the tour. My hope is that by studying these historic documents, students will compare them to similar ones today. The comparison of contemporary and historic documents will hopefully teach students about the differences and similarities between the stereotypes immigrants faced then and now.

    Teaching Lawrence’s Bread and Roses Strike 100 Years Later
    Presented by Rob Michaud, Andover High School

    Many high school teachers struggle with the discussion of race and immigration in contemporary America in their classrooms. This problem is of particular interest to teachers and students who live in the Merrimack Valley; race and immigration are a part of their everyday experience given their proximity to Lowell and Lawrence, cities that played a national role in the history of immigration. As a high school history teacher who grew up in Lawrence, issues of immigration, class, and race are ones that I value in discussions of historical events. Teaching in Andover has challenged me with regard to using Lawrence’s history in my classroom. Students in my classes often struggle to understand how and why these communities has developed their present identities. The overlap in the history of these communities necessitates that these topics become focal points as my students rise to become citizens in the region. I address this through the curriculum by teaching the “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912 using primary source documents, secondary sources, the Digital Public Library of America, and modern photographs of Andover’s Shawsheen Village. With this mix of primary and secondary sources, students can broaden their view and come to deeper understandings of immigration then and now.

    Immigration and Union Building – A New England Comparison
    Presented by Steve Thornton, The Shoeleather History Project

    It was 1986. The union organizer approached the Futuramik factory gate and walked to the employer’s office with a local Catholic priest and a newspaper reporter in tow. This boss knew the dangers of the plastic molding process in his factory, but he didn’t think anyone else knew. And he didn’t expect the three men at his door. Danny Perez, an organizer for the ILGWU, handed the startled boss a first-aid kit. "This is for your employees," he said. "There are too many workers being burned by molten plastic. Too many other injuries, wet floors, no machine guards." "Keep your first-aid kit, I don’t want it," the boss replied. "The Puerto Ricans will just steal it." Beginning in the 1850s with the influx of Irish laborers, immigrant groups have provided Hartford, Connecticut a workforce that was cheap, plentiful-- and non-union. One by one immigrant workers moved their way up the economic ladder, and they did it, in large measure, by building their own labor organizations. In this presentation I demonstrate the parallel between the immigrant groups of Hartford and the unions they built to win economic (and political) power. While acknowledging the earliest local migrant arrivals, specifically Irish, Italian and African Americans from the South, I primarily focus on the new immigration of Puerto Rican, West Indian, and Eastern European populations. I also use some Lawrence history and demographics to compare how ethnic and racial groups engaged each other in both cities as they have struggled to fight their way out of poverty.

  14. Reconstructing the Chinese Experience in Lawrence, Massachusetts Since the 1870s
    Presented by Shehong Chen, History Department, University of Massachusetts Lowell

    Lawrence is known as an immigrant city. Although the first Chinese appeared in the City Directory in 1879, nobody has done detailed research into this particular group’s history in the city. On the national level, the Chinese American experience has been well documented. Chinese experienced discrimination almost as soon as they arrived in California during the Gold Rush. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act barred Chinese workers from coming into the U.S. After Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. and China became allies, resulting in the repeal of the Exclusion Act. During the Civil Right Movement of the 1960s, a new immigrant law stopped the “national origin quota” system and ushered in a new wave of immigrants from China. This presentation begins to answer the following: Who were the Chinese immigrants who arrived in Lawrence and why did they choose this city? Were they a part of the industrial labor force? What economic niches did they occupy? How did mainstream society interact with them? How did big events such as WWII and the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act affect the Chinese community?

  15. Lawtown Expression
    Presented by the Movement City Youth Network (part of Lawrence CommunityWorks)

    Movement City’s spoken word team, “Lawtown Expression,” uses the art of poetry to vocalize issues, and experiences from the perspective of their roots here in the "Immigrant City" of Lawrence. Some of the students use historical context in their poems and also daily experiences/stories that bring us into the present moment. Some students also use their alter ego to allow the audience a perspective from the immigrants’ point of view, painting a picture so that you can experience the thoughts and emotions. Throughout the writing & sharing process, students gained insight into their own families’ history (some are second-generation immigrants) . They used their pre-immigrant knowledge as well, attempting to capture new stories and perspectives.

    For this session led by Keyla Rodrigues, resident spoken word & mixed media art leader, a small group of teens between the ages of 14 & 18 participate in a series of writing workshops in which they explored stories of immigration in the writing process. Their writing illustrates the ideas that the teens are wrestling with and they have put together a collective performance art project or a mixed-media art project based on the writing process they are currently exploring.

  16. Lunch Roundtable: Focus on the "New" Immigration into Lawrence
    This roundtable discussion will address (from personal experience and research) Lawrence's recent history, what factors have shaped it, and how it became the city it is today.
    Moderator: Professor Robert Forrant, UMass Lowell
    • Dr. Llana Barber, State University of New York College at Old Westbury
    • Zoila Gomez, Immigration Attorney
    • Eliana Martinez, Teacher, Lawrence International High School
    • Victor Martinez, Community Organizer, Lawrence CommunityWorks

    This session will take place immediately following lunch for all those in attendance. Discussion will be encouraged.

  17. Photography Exhibitions
    The work of photographers Tony Loreti, Mary Beth Meehan, and Mario E. Quiroz-Servellón will be on display throughout the day in common spaces.

  18. Film Showing and Closing Reception at El Taller
    Please join us at El Taller at the conclusion of the day (around 4:30pm) for a reception and film showing.

    • REFUGE: Caring for Survivors of Torture, with film maker Ben Achtenberg
      Immigrants to the United States have no doubt always included significant numbers of men, women – and children as well – who have fled ethnically, religiously, or politically motivated persecution and violence. Though there are no reliable statistics, it’s likely that those numbers have increased in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It has been estimated that as many as 500,000 to a million immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers now living in the U.S. have been victims of torture. Some survivors bear visible scars, but many more have been wounded in ways that remain hidden. Throughout the U.S., healthcare and social service professionals, students, and concerned citizens have mobilized to respond to their needs. The new documentary film, REFUGE: Caring for Survivors of Torture documents the work of five treatment programs, in four metropolitan areas – programs that offer compassionate care to survivors needing health, mental health, and social services. Through the moving stories of nine survivors (out of more than 20 interviewed) as well as the physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists who work with them, audiences get a vivid picture of this hidden crisis. Filming locations included Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, as well as Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.


Tue–Fri: 9am-4pm
Sat: By appt
Sun-Mon: Closed

Address & Phone

6 Essex Street
Lawrence, MA 01840

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Founded in 1978 as the Immigrant City Archives, the mission of the Lawrence History Center is to collect, preserve, share, and animate the history and heritage of Lawrence and its people.