Oral Histories - Caribbean Heritage in Cambridge

The 2018 Caribbean Heritage Oral History Project collected interviews of nine Cambridge people who were born in or have roots in the Caribbean as part of our year of asking “Where is Cambridge From?” Areas of ancestry included Barbados (1), Haiti (4), Jamaica (1), Puerto Rico (1), Suriname (1), and Trinidad (1), and also “from Cambridge.” Their ages range from 20s to 70s, with memories of Cambridge that reach back to the 1950s and up to the present.

These interviews help us gain perspective on what it’s like to be both from Cambridge and from the Caribbean. Thank you to the narrators who agreed to be interviewed, and thank you to Katie Burke and Lina Raciukaitis for preserving them in the local historical record.

“To see different immigrants, but [the] different ways they exist in their life – I think that can be useful, for other generations to know who’s among them.” — Jean Dany Joachim

“I’m not ashamed to talk about my life, and so if that can help another immigrant… or if the program can use my experience to help improve the situation of other newcomers like immigrants, I’m happy to help.”— Pierre Fils-Aime

Jean Appolon

Photo Credit: Jean Appolon Expressions

Jean Appolon was born in Haiti and moved to Cambridge when he was 16 years old. He has been a professional dancer with Alvin Ailey and the Joffrey Ballet. He runs a dance troupe in Boston and teaches a Haitian folklore class in Cambridge at the Dance Complex.

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Marian Darlington-Hope

Photo credit: Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House

Marian Darlington-Hope was born in the Port neighborhood in Cambridge, and has lived there most of her life. Her parents were both from Barbados. She had a professional career as a Professor at UMass Boston and Lesley College, and continues to be involved in community activism in Cambridge.

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Elba Santiago

Elba Santiago was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Cambridge when she was 17 and a half years old. Elba has worked at a number of jobs in Cambridge, including factory work, child care, and as a teacher’s aid in the Cambridge school system. Elba currently lives in a house she owns with her husband in the Port neighborhood of Cambridge. She has three children.

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