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Forging Lawrence's Contemporary Identity: Lawrence History Center Symposium on "New Immigration" into Lawrence a Success!


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On April 5, 2014, the Lawrence History Center and its sponsors held a one-day symposium on the history of the “new immigration,” into Lawrence, Massachusetts and similar communities at the Everett Mill in Lawrence. 

The event was dedicated to LHC founder Eartha Dengler (August 15, 1922 – March 8, 2014), a post Second World War immigrant, and attended by over 175 participants from a myriad of local and regional organizations -- Brown University, Harvard University, the UMass campuses, NECC, Brooks School, Phillips Academy, the National Park Service-Salem and Lowell, Essex Heritage, the Immigrant Learning Center, Project Bootstrap (Lynn), Salem State University, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School (Lawrence), and many others. 

All told there were 16 panel sessions, a morning keynote from Brown University Professor Jose Itzigsohn, a lunch roundtable discussion moderated by UMass Lowell Professor Robert Forrant with panelists Professor Llana Barber (SUNY at Old Westbury ), Victor Martinez (Lawrence CommunityWorks), Eliana Martinez (Lawrence International High School), and Attorney Zoila Gomez (Law Offices of Zoila Marisol Gomez, Lawrence), and other attractions (e.g. photography exhibits, Oliver Partnership School Immigration Storyboards, The Lewis Hine Project: Stories of the Lawrence Children, and the LHC bilingual exhibit, Short Pay! All Out!). 

Here's what attendees are saying! 

"Thank you for inviting me to this great event … I did not know what to expect and it ended up being one of the best conferences I participated in the last years." 
~ Keynote speaker Professor Jose Itzigsohn, Brown University 

“A great day! Excellent plenaries and I enjoyed all of the workshops I attended - Dr. Avi Chomsky's, Working Cities' Challenge Program Lawrence CommunityWorks), and Movement City's Guerrilla Society poetry workshop!” 
~ Julie Todd, Iliff School of Theology, Affiliate Faculty for Justice and Peace Studies 

"What a grand day turning around the retrograde story people have about Lawrence." 
~ Professor Robert Forrant, UMass Lowell / LHC board of directors 

"Thanks for the invitation. I was honored to be part of such a gathering!" 
~ Eliana Martinez, Teacher, Lawrence International High School 

“On April 5, Essex Heritage participated in the Lawrence History Center's well attended symposium on "new immigration." Presentations helped participants to make connections between the complex history of immigration in the region and contemporary realities in Lawrence and other cities in the area, while scholars gave research-based insight into these issues and panelists highlighted the voices of Lawrence's immigrants themselves. Essex Heritage Education Coordinator Beth Beringer and NPS Education Specialist Maryann Zujewski, shared lessons learned from the Caribbean Connections program, a project that involved English Language Learning Middle Schoolers discovering ties between Salem and the Caribbean.” 
~ Essex National Heritage Area 

"In Andover, I've had occasion to speak to high school- and college-level attendees, all of whom were blown away. They'll have occasion to attend other conferences, but they'll remember this one." 
~ Adele Carter, Phllips Academy / LHC board of directors 

“The symposium … provided a platform for those who are forging the city's contemporary identity, including the Oliver School fourth graders, the Notre Dame High Schoolers, and the UMass Lowell scholars. I LOVED the incorporation and the value of all levels of scholarship. This is how we grow; and our valuing of all levels of scholarship allows each student, at each level, to also grow. One of the Oliver fourth graders, thrilled, said that he "felt he was in college." He might as well have said he "felt he was in heaven." ... enough said for the value of the LHC symposium for this fourth grader.” 
~ Kathy Flynn, LHC Researcher 

“We’re in a unique position in that we’re right next to Lawrence, where there are a lot of immigrants,” she said. “This symposium provided an opportunity to participate in that greater conversation. It was also a way to introduce the students to experts in their fields. The speakers were mostly local professors and professionals working in the field of immigration.” 
~ Brooks School history teacher Susanna Waters who attended with five of her History of Latin America and the Caribbean class students (Read more here). 

“People are saying that this weekend's symposium on the history of immigration in Lawrence is "what living history means." We're proud to say that the symposium was a big success, with important, engaging discussions that will continue long after the event.”
~ Mass Humanities 

“According to two of Jericho Road's Board members, the Lawrence History Center's symposium on the history of the "new immigration" this Saturday at the Everett Mill was "fabulous." 
~ Jericho Road Lawrence 

“The sessions I attended were interesting, stimulating and gave us, the participants, ideas that we can incorporate into the way we think and act going forward. I hope we will find productive ways to share this wealth of information with the broader LHC community!” 
~ Karen Van Welden Herman, LHC board secretary 

“Listening to a Guatemalan participant describe how his father and brother were killed in front of him and he didn't even know why there was a war, made me think of Eartha [Dengler] and how she always advocated for those who lived through the daily horrors of war as she did. There was also a young, poised Notre Dame student who described how her mother left the DR to escape an abusive relationship. Eartha wanted peoples stories told and they were. The symposium was a fitting tribute to the founder of the Lawrence History Center.” 
~ Pamela Yameen, LHC board president 

As we reflect on the important conversations that took place and the overwhelmingly positive feedback coming, we are beginning to understand that the impact of the symposium will be significant and likely realized steadily over time as outsiders explore their new found intrigue with the city and insiders blossom with their new found validation and empowerment.

 Click here to view the FULL PROGRAM in PDF. 

Click here to view EVENT PHOTOS

We thank everyone who helped make this event so successful and our sponsors who helped make it possible!