Why not us?

Tuesday, July 18 2017 Written by
Hey again, I think I have mentioned in previous posts how important stories are. All stories, in some manner or another, are significant; but, what is really important is recognizing that some stories have been overshadowed by the past. I believe it imperative that we highlight these forgotten and hidden histories. Right now, I am looking into those particular histories. The ones that whisper. The ones that you may never have heard of, but are there and just as important as the ones you read in your history textbooks when you were younger. That is why my 2017 LHIP project is trying to develop an archive of Latino/Hispanic history here in Lowell, Massachusetts. I think it was a Thursday when I went down to the archives looking for what I thought would be some easily accessible documents about Latino/Hispanic labor in the textile mills. I was looking for supporting research material to claim that the Wannalancit Mill was a place of historic significance (where the first 19 Colombian immigrants to the city came to work) in order to petition for a historical landmark/plaque, thus inspiring other Latinos/Hispanics in the community to start thinking of places that were of significance to them. But, any research I planned on conducting was quickly put on hold when I found out there was scarcely anything in the historic archives pertaining to Latino/ Hispanic history in Lowell. It was a tough realization to come across, especially considering that about 20% of the population identifies as Latino/Hispanic. Lowell has a rich Latino/Hispanic community consisting of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan, Colombian, etc. brought to the city by the promise of a better life working in the textile mills during the mid to late 1900s. Yet, there is no adequate public record of their stories. While other immigrant groups are featured in the archives, I can't help but wonder, where are ours? Where are the stories of my family? of my people? And why are they not here? So, together with the Lowell National Historical Park staff, we are currently working on a methodology for collecting documents, photos, artifacts, etc. to accompany a proposal for a crowd-sourced archive of Latino/Hispanic immigrant history. The project is still in its development stages, but it looks very hopeful. There are many Latinos/Hispanics and allies who want there to be a better representation of Latinos/Hispanics in Lowell. We want to collect, archive, and preserve the struggles, courage, and legacy of those first Latinos/Hispanics who came to Lowell in a space that is both permanent and accessible. Ranger Julian and I are both first generation Colombian Americans. Our family came from Medellin to work in Lowell’s textile mills. We want to see our histories represented. We want our family’s contributions to the textile industry and our city be seen as essential to the history of Lowell. We want the omitted histories of Latinos and Hispanic to have a place in the historical archives, so that in the future descendants can have a place to research and reflect on their families, and in a broader sense the American Dream. Be proud of your story. Share your history. Yours truly, Daniela Sierra
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