Summerlee Foundation Grant Announcement

The IDCL team is very excited to announce our recent grant award from the Summerlee Foundation! 

As part of their Texas History Program, the Summerlee Foundation has funded a diverse range of projects from all regions of Texas. These projects have included the disciplines of archaeology, archives, libraries, media, museums, middle and secondary schools, higher education, preservation, publications, and scholarly research.

Gone to Texas: Exploring the Impact of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 

With the support of the Summerlee Foundation, IDCL is gearing up to begin interviewing for the “Gone to Texas” oral history collection, which aims to explore how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has shaped Texas over the past almost 60 years. The law, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, ended an immigrations admissions policy based on race and ethnicity and gave rise to large-scale immigration. It set in motion a significant shift in demographics that are still shaping the United States today and will continue to do so. 

Before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, quotas were in place since the 1920s to ensure that immigration to the United States was primarily restricted to Europeans. In 1960, seven of eight immigrants were white people from Europe. By 2010, nine out of 10 newcomers were immigrants of color from outside Europe. This increasing diversity of nationalities and cultures has also been accompanied by an increase in religious diversity.

The “Gone to Texas” oral history collection will help us better understand and document the memories, voices, and experiences of immigrants to Texas and their children from the late 20th century through the present. We want to amplify stories from communities that have been less visible or underrepresented in the public sphere–“new immigrant” religions, like Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. 

The collection will focus on two generational groups: those who immigrated to Texas as adults from non-European countries between 1965 – 1985 and first-generation Texans who are children of post-1965 immigrants. Through interviews with the older generation, we will talk about their migration stories, what it was like to come to Texas without an established community, how they’ve built new communities, and how they’ve seen Texas change over the past decades. Interviews with the younger generation will dive into growing up in Texas in the late 20th and 21ist centuries and will also focus on experiences as adherents of minority religions within the U.S. The collection as a whole will explore how these individuals and communities are a key part of who is a Texan as well as other ways Texas has been shaped by immigration and migration. We want to amplify stories from communities that have been less visible or underrepresented in the public sphere–“new immigrant” religions, like Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. 

Multimedia Exhibit

The “Gone to Texas” collection will be part of IDCL’s larger Religions Texas initiative. Rooted in the practices of community-based research, storytelling, and public history, Religions Texas is a digital community archive and oral history initiative that documents and preserves the stories of religious peoples and communities across Texas with an emphasis on stories, identities, and communities that have been historically left out or marginalized in the public sphere and larger narratives of Texas. The project will culminate in a multimedia digital exhibit and learning resource that will support public understanding of the significance of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 for Texas, including the demographic transformation of Texas over the past almost sixty years and changing experiences of immigration. This resource will make an important contribution to an often untold or underrepresented part of the story of Texas and help build a more capacious narrative of who Texans are.

Interested in being interviewed? Know someone who’d be a great fit?

If your experience or that of someone you know aligns with the vision of “Gone to Texas” please get in touch with us!

rimsha@diversityandciviclife.org | https://diversityandciviclife.org

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