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Community Highlights

Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft

WorkingTheBoatsSeriesWorking the Boats: Masters of the Craft , a six part documentary webisode, captures the golden years of Local 1329 of the I.L.A. (the International Longshoremen’s Association) in the voices of those who built it and from the community they supported. Founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1933 by Manuel Q. Ledo, a Cape Verdean community leader, Local 1329 of the I.L.A. (the International Longshoremen’s Association) was the first predominantly Cape Verdean labor union in New England. “Masters of the Craft” refers to the men in charge of the gangs that unloaded and loaded cargo in the ports of Providence. It was a job that demanded great skill: it was a major mark of distinction to rise through the ranks and become a walking foreman, or “Master of the Craft.” Local 1329 was the “table that fed the community”: it was a way of life, not a job, and the economic lifeline for three generations of Cape Verdean men from Fox Point who worked the boats in the ports of Providence. The l940s to early l970s was a booming period for the waterfront. Providence, Rhode Island was one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard, with scrap iron and loose lumber being two of the biggest cargos coming into the Port of Providence. “Working the Boats” was the economic lifeline for the Cape Verdean community, providing jobs and security for between 200 to 250 Local 1329 members and their families. Jobs were passed down from father to son, and new members learned their “craft” on the job from their fathers, brothers, cousins, neighbors and extended family.

Photographs by Liane Brandon Summary Who We Are Extras Working the Boats: Masters of the Craft , a six part documentary webisode, captures the golden years of Local 1329 of the I.L.A. (the International Longshoremen’s Association) in the voices of those who built it and from the community they supported. Founded in Providence, Rhode Island […]