This presentation explores the notion of a “migrant zero” in a collective sense, by exploring the first group of West Indians to settle in the Greater Hartford region. How and why did West Indians move to Connecticut, and perhaps more importantly, why did they stay? This story connects to important and contentious national debates in American public discourse on immigration and globalization: chain migration, guest worker programs, illegal migration, and deportation. It also offers a look at more private community debates about assimilation, language, memory, and cultural heritage.
Fiona Vernal, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, University of Connecticut.