Professor Puts Spotlight On Caribbean Migrants In New York History


CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Oct. 20, 2009: By 1930, one quarter of New York`s black population was Caribbean-born, says a New York professor, who is putting the spotlight on Caribbean migration to the Big apple.

Irma Watkins-Owens, an associate professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Fordham University, says her research has shown that Caribbean women, like Caribbean men, were a highly select population in terms of literacy levels and other class advantages and patterns of mobility in New York.

First-generation men with educational and other advantages were more likely than first-generation women to become involved in professional careers, business and electoral politics in the African-American community, she added, according to Gina Vergel on Fordham in

Watkins-Owens, the recipient of a Fordham faculty fellowship in 2008,  is reconstructing and comparing the histories of African-American and English-speaking African-Caribbean women who migrated to New York City from 1898 to 1945.

She said most were attracted to New York City because it offered a service economy where jobs could be found.

Watkins-Owens said she also found observable differences between southern and Caribbean migrants with most Caribbean women having homogeneous class backgrounds along with elementary education in the British system training in a trade such as needlework.

Watkins-Owens plans to continue finding details to add to this history of migrant women in New York City.

`Together with my previous book, Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community (Indiana, 1996), about intra-racial ethnicity and community formation, my research goal is to address larger issues of New World racial formation by considering black perspectives formed inside and outside U.S. borders,` she told Inside Fordham Online.

The associate professor is also researching `Caribbean Immigrants in Port Cities of the United States from 1790-1880.`


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