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Cape Verdean history displayed

Dan O’Brien and Emily Goodridge, MA ’14
February 13, 2013

A photographic exhibit on the history of the Cape Verdean community of Providence, Rhode Island, is now on display at Providence City Hall through March 15—and it’s acting as the companion to an upcoming documentary about the community by Claire Andrade-Watkins, associate professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson.

Both the exhibit and Andrade-Watkins’s documentary, Working the Boats, are under the umbrella of the Fox Point Cape Verdean Project, a multifaceted initiative spearheaded by Cape Verdeans to preserve the history of the Fox Point Cape Verdean community in Providence. The documentary will be released later this year.

The exhibit, Masters of the Craft: Gallery of Memory, commemorates the 80th anniversary of the founding of the first labor union in New England organized by Cape Verdeans, Local 1329 of the International Longshoremen’s Association of Providence.

It features formal portraits of Local 1329 longshoremen, their families, and descendants, which were photographed by Liane Brandon.

Andrade-Watkins grew up in the Fox Point section of Providence, which she said is the oldest Cape Verdean community in Rhode Island, and the second oldest and largest in North America.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t know I was poor,” she said. “We had what we needed. And we were a strong community, full of the best qualities to be found in humanity: love, kindness, and compassion. So, we were happy.”

Andrade-Watkins said she teaches her students to “engage with the global world” and “to be informed media makers.”

Andrade-Watkins is director of a 2006 film about the Providence Cape Verdean community, Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican? A Cape Verdean American Story.

She is also the founder and president of Spia Media Productions.

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