From Minority to Majority:

The Long Journey of 19th Century Irish and Modern Day Latinx Immigrants in the Merrimack Valley

Highlights from a workshop that took place on January 23, 2021

Greater Lawrence is and has always been a mixture of different ethnicities and cultures, but few have come to dominate the political and social landscape of the area quite like the Irish and Latinx communities. In this workshop, we will examined how these communities’ journeys exemplify a larger history of structural policies of exclusion, scapegoating and prejudice, but also perseverance and change.

The questions brought up during this workshop included:

  • What are the similarities and differences between 19th century Irish immigration and 20th century Latinx immigration in our region?
  • How can voices from the immigrant community inform our understanding of how to approach this topic with our students?
  • How do examples of marginalized groups’ experiences in Essex County, Massachusetts illuminate how some histories have been “hidden” within our larger American story?
  • How can we help students connect with this history, keeping their voices and ideas at the forefront of our teaching?
  • How do we create a safe environment for difficult conversations about complex issues surrounding race, identity, and what it means to be “American,” especially through a local lens that will hit close to home?

While you are welcome to watch the entire workshop, as it was recorded on Zoom (except for the break out sections), here are some specific resources that may be useful for designing lesson plans.

In this video, Wendy Waldron discusses using materials from the workshop in her lesson plans.

Wendy Waldron's reflection on how the implemented lesson went

Wendy Waldron’s reflection on how the implemented lesson went (this includes activity “worksheets” and student work).

Workshop facilitator and educator Brian Sheehy and students demonstrate how local examples and difficult conversations related to immigration history can be put into practice in the classroom.