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COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

THE IMMIGRANTS

NARRATOR: Since early in the 19th Century, immigration has been an enormous force in the life of our state, both enriching it and creating new tensions. By 1910, 70% of the state's population were either first or second-generation immigrants.

JOHN SUTHERLAND (Dir., Institute for Local History): The Connecticut Yankee really lost his homogeneity in the mid 19th Century as the Irish and then the Germans and the Scandinavians later in the 20th Century, southern and eastern Europeans, Italians, Poles, Russians and others all came and when they came to these shores, they came to where the work was and a lot of the work because of the Industrial Revolution was in Connecticut and they came to mills like these to find jobs.

NARRATOR: Leo Tetreault grandfather left Canada for Connecticut at the turn of the Century. His was typical of the Connecticut immigrant experience.

KEN SIMON: What drew the French Canadians to this area? was it work or --

LEO TETREAULT (Former Putnam Mayor): Work, no question about that. It was work. Ah, the French people have the hard work culture and of course the people in charge of the mills recognized that and as a result, of course, it was easy to get a job. Didn't pay much -- $2 a week. In fact, I worked for as little as five dollars and a half a week for 48 hours of work, but the wages were enough for these families to survive, but they knew how to make the most of any -- every penny that they had.

HERB JANICK (Historian, W. CT State U.): What happened in Connecticut also happened lots of other places. Alright? Waves of similar immigrants. I think what happened in Connecticut is maybe a little bit different as it happened in a very small place. Alright? And it happened not in one huge city. It happened in many cities all over the state. Each one with its own ethnic mix. To me, it's the variety in such a small space that is unique to Connecticut.

NARRATOR: For some, the changes that accompanied immigration seem to threaten the essential order and stability of community life.

BARBARA TUCKER (Dir., Ctr. for Connecticut Studies): What happened in the 19th Century, especially the late 19th Century, as you have immigrants coming into Connecticut, you also have people in Connecticut becoming very anxious about all the change that's taking place and what you have beginning around 1876 is something called the Colonial Revival. The Colonial Revival is an attempt to look back at what people conceived as a much more stable, tranquil, peaceful, restful time and they look back to the village and what they did is not take the village as it was, but as they wanted it to be. They literally built up a new concept of the New England Village and Litchfield is the prime example.

CHRIS BICKFORD (Exec. Dir., CT Historical Society) I think our image of New England is drawn from a sort of mythical colonial past. When we picture a New England town, we think of the common, the green. We think of white colonial structures. We think of sort of orderly existence. This is mythical because Connecticut was really not that orderly. There was a lot of contention on the local level, but that is our sense of our past and I think it's precious to us. I think we value colonial buildings and small towns.

SEPARATE & UNEQUAL

NARRATOR: This period of rapid industrialization and immigration was also characterized by heightened racial and ethnic tensions. Hostility and suspicion towards those perceived as different had long been a part of Connecticut life.

BARBARA TUCKER (Dir., Ctr. for Connecticut Studies): Connecticut has a very long history of racism, beginning with the Indian wars -- the Pequot wars. We had slavery in Connecticut. One of the major slave ports was Newport and the whole area around Narraganset into New London into Norwich, up even into places like Hebron -- major slave areas. Whenever abolitioners came and wanted to speak, you had riots -- wholesale riots.

MARIA TORRES (Bridgeport Police Commission): Coming from Puerto Rico, you don't even think about, oh, they're an ethnic group, because, you know, there are none, but you tend to feel that everybody's treated the same when there's no reason white color should come into the picture as far as treating other people, so I would say that was probably the first thing that surprised me when I came to this state back then when I was nine years old, is the fact that because people were black or Hispanic, I found they were treated, you know, a little bit different and I had a hard time understanding that.

NARRATOR: Today racial minorities remain concentrated in Connecticut's urban areas. Three of these cities are among the ten poorest in the nation. Despite our self-image of affluence, there are two Connecticuts, which rarely come in contact with each other.

BARBARA TUCKER (Dir., Ctr. for Connecticut Studies): While I think we're ethnically and racially diverse, we're certainly not integrated. Our communities aren't integrated. Our school systems are not integrated. Various racial and ethnic groups live in pockets all over the state.

NARRATOR: Thirteen year old Milo Shaff goes to school in Hartford where 90% of public school students are minorities. Just over the border in suburban West Hartford, the student body is 84% white. To integrate Connecticut's racially segregated urban and suburban schools, civil rights groups sued the state in 1989. The suit, filed on behalf of Milo and 17 other students is now making its way through the courts.

ELIZABETH SHEFF (Hartford City Council): We are moving toward a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic globally connected world. Our children must be prepared to live in that world. They can't be prepared to live in that world if they're segregated -- if all they know as Milo said is they're own little home town theory.

MILO SHEFF (Hartford Student): You just can't like go to one school and have all of the same race. You need to have different races, so we can learn about each other and instead of saying, well, I don't like this whole race because of one person did something to you, you need to learn about all the other people.

JERRY WATTS (American Studies Prof., Trinity): And where do people ever acquire a unifying identity that comes from interacting with each other, some commonality of interest, right? Whether there's a member of a -- some labor forceóbut to the extent that these things are declining as the sites of occupation, these factories and so forth, to the extent that our cities no longer are places where there's ethnic interaction and more kind of ethnic onclays under siege in some sense, right? We don't have the mechanisms that generate that type of ah common ah identity.

JUAN FIGEROA (Connecticut State Representative): Who we are is just sort of in a state of flux We're heading towards reality and that is that Connecticut as most of our folks pronounce the name, is a place -- is a home for a lot of our folks and will continue to be a home for a lot of our folks and will continue to sort of be the place where our folks want to bring up their children, have them go to school, have them get a good job, contribute to whatever it may be, everything from Desert Storm to working in a school. This is our place.

 


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