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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Performance at 1996 anniversary of the Portuguese Cultural Association
Performance on the anniversary of the Portuguese Cultural Association, 1996. Photo courtesy Portuguese Cultural Association

Dreams of Portugal and the Dreams Continue

Arriving as immigrants to New Jersey at the turn of the century, many Portuguese settled in the Newark, New Jersey, area, where they created organizations to preserve the culture and language of their homeland. One such organization is the non-profit Portuguese Cultural Association of Kearny, New Jersey, created in 1979, which has founded a Portuguese ethnic school, where children can learn the language through reading, writing, and dialogue, and a folklore dance group, called Dreams of Portugal. In April 1981, the group made its inaugural performance at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Harrison, New Jersey, and from 1983 into the late 1980s, it was the only group to represent the Portuguese community at various New Jersey State functions and festivals. The group won a number of honors and dance competitions throughout the 1980s, notably the Centennial celebration for the Statue of Liberty held in Manhattan.

In the early 1990s, the president of the Portuguese Cultural Association suggested that Dreams of Portugal form another dance group from the children of the association's members, thus giving birth to The Dreams Continue.

Since their inception, both groups have performed in many states throughout the East, including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia; in 1994, they were the only performers asked to be part of the two-day Azalea Festival in Norfolk, Virginia. More recently, they have performed at the New Jersey Statewide Professional Citizenship Conference at Princeton University, and the Anti-Defamation League's 50th Anniversary at Liberty State Park, Ellis Island.

Project materials include seven pages of text, 22 8 x 10 color photos, a videotape, and a newspaper tabloid on the video documentary which examines the Portuguese community in Kearny.

Originally submitted by: Frank Lautenberg, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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