The History of Latinos

in Rhode Island

Nuestras Raíces | Nuestra Historia

RI Latino Pioneers: Roberto González, first Latino judge in RI; Astrid (Toledo) Morales, one of first Guatemalan families in RI; James Diossa, first Latino mayor in Central Falls; Gilberto García, early Mexican lace worker; Rev. Juán Francisco, co-founder of the first HPAC; Tessie Salabert, one of the first Cuban families in RI; José González, one of the founders of the student group LASO; Angel Tavera, first Latino mayor in RI; Josefina “Doña Fefa” Rosario, Mother of the Hispanic Community of RI; Pedro Cano, Sr. one of the first Colombians in RI.
About Us. Nuestras Raíces: The Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island was started in 1991 with one single interview. Since then, it has become a wide-range collection of personal stories, photos and pieces of paper documenting the history of Rhode Island’s Spanish-speaking community. Our mission is to collect, share and celebrate the diverse experiences through the voices of Latinos in Rhode Island.

Educators. It is our desire that this collection of personal stories by Rhode Island’s Latino pioneers can help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives. We hope that the information in in this website can complement or serve as a supplement when Rhode Island history is taught in 4th grade, and incorporated later on when students are in middle and high school.

We offer workshops and presentations to youth groups, community groups and schools about our project featuring the history of Latinos in Rhode Island. These presentations or workshops can be tailored to run from one to three hours. To inquire, click on the "Contact Us" button on the top, right. NOTE: There will be a small speakers fee for these presentations.

The Rhode Island Latino History Collection is the official archives of Latino history in the State of Rhode Island. It was created to make public what before 1991 were unheard stories and unseen photos that have been generously shared by the people whose stories we tell.
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Rhode Island's Latinos are very diverse. The information we collect will include not just stories of our Pioneers, but is now expanding to include all of the diverse and growing complexities and beauty of the Latino/Latina/Latinx communities in the state.

Latinos today are found in urban and rural communities all over the state, contributing enormously to the cultural, social, political, and economic fabric of Rhode Island. Within the next decade Latinos will become Rhode Island’s largest minority population, yet only a very few organizations in Rhode Island are actively collecting significant information about Latinos.

Much of the documentation that records the rich history and culture of these diverse communities statewide is in danger of being lost. Historical information is inadequately represented in the documentation of broad areas of Latino culture, including the fine arts, popular music and dance forms and folk and traditional arts. Similarly, information is extremely limited about Hispanic businesses and social, political, community, and religious organizations.

Responses to issues of immigration and migration, discrimination, economic opportunity, public education, health care, law enforcement, and social services by the Latino/Latina/Latinx people have been poorly represented in historical records. Even the substantial contributions of various Latino and Latina community leaders and politicians from Rhode Island at the local, state and even national level are seriously lacking adequate documentation.

This website, which includes the first comprehensive Latino History Archival Collection in Rhode Island, has changed that. We invite you to become part of the people’s history of our state, and we hope you find it useful.

Contact us to find out how you can contribute.
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Watch a clip of La Bodega de Fefa: A Monologue and then schedule a presentation in your organization. ▶︎
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Listen to personal stories about the impact of Hurricane María
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Watch our video of life on La Calle Broa' | Broad Street. ▶︎
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• Take a Virtual Walking Tour
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Listen to and watch videos of Rhode Island Latino Voices
Permission to Reproduce: Some materials presented in these collections may be subject to the terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, publicity rights, privacy rights, licensing and trademarks. Go here for more information

Nuestras Raíces Director/Founder & Oral Historian: Marta V. Martínez
Stelly DaMoura, Central Falls Walking Tours | Joann Ayuso, Cranston Street Walking Tours - Providence |
Teresa Guaba & Candelaria Danicher, Broad Street Walking Tours
| Yaruska Ordinola Pérez, Archives Research Assistant

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Funds for the Cuban Stories oral histories were made possible with a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH).

Funds for the Rhode Island Latino History Archival Collections provided in part by the Herman Rose Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.
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Learn more about LA500 2015-2016 activities made possible in part with funds from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Go here
Latino history in RI is pleased to partner with Rhode Island PBS to share Rhode Island Latino Voices on their station.
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Funds for Este Es Mi Barrio | This is My Neighborhood provided in part by RICH, the NTHP, the PTC , Providence AC+T and the RI Foundation Community Grants
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Nuestras Raíces is a project of Rhode Island Latino Arts.
For more about RI Latino Arts, visit this website:

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Some materials presented in these collections may be subject to the terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, publicity rights, privacy rights, licensing and trademarks.

Go here for more information and also to have access to our Latino History Archival Collections