The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
By the sweat of our brow
Repository: [Sylvia Ann Soares repository]
Collection Description (Extant): This project was created in 2009 by professional performing artist Sylvia Ann Soares, Brown '95. Soares is a member of the acting unions AEA/SAG/AFTRA and worked in New York in the Black Theater Movement of the 60s. The title of this project is the motto for the International Longshoremen's Association #1329, Providence, RI, a group that remains ethnically diverse. The project contains Soares's 13 audio oral history interviews and transcripts of elder Cape Verdean Longshoremen of the Local #1329. She also transcribed an additional (digitally) converted interview, originally taped in 1987 by Waltraud B. Coli, IMA, the first Individualized Master of Arts, in Anthropology and African and African America Studies, RI College '87. The ILA #1329 has a history that connects to the African American civil rights movement. Founder and labor activist, immigrant Manuel Q. Ledo struggled against shippers during the Depression, a time of great employment discrimination and union busting. One of the ILA #1329 members, Arthur S. Soares, a Fox Point Cape Verdean, (father of Sylvia Ann Soares) was the first Black President of the Propeller Club of the United States Port of Narragansett Bay. The interviewees are Cape Verdean, a few half African American. One of the interviewees, a writer influenced by James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, speaks of his involvement in the Afro Arts Center at Brown University in the 1960s. Another interviewee was the first Black/Cape Verdean Superintendent on the Providence waterfront and cites becoming the first Black/Cape Verdean Processing Sheriff in Rhode Island. Another interviewee became the first Black/Cape Verdean firefighter on the Providence Fire Department in 1953. In Soares's accompanying essay, a long deceased elder (not interviewee) remembers when the waterfront was 'all black, not yet Black Portuguese.' The project brings to light untold stories of Rhode Island labor struggles and culture through topics ranging from the work process to worker discrimination. It speaks of personal triumphs and incidents of corruption of ILA #1329.
The book of interviews and related images are in final stages to be published online and donated to a selection of local libraries and pertinent institutions. These sites will hold the digital audio recordings. A website is planned. Available now is a well-received presentation of a slide show and first-person narratives taken from the interviews, presented by Sylvia Ann Soares, professional actress. No project material is to be released prior to the publishing.
Digital Status: Born-digital
Extent: 14 audio recordings; 14 transcripts; photographs, archival and other; 1st time seen archival documents; manuscripts
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
Cape Verdeans--Rhode Island
Civil rights movements--Rhode Island
Discrimination in employment
International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union
Labor movement--Rhode Island
Race discrimination--Rhode Island
Rhode Island--Politics and government