Author: Jason Oliver Chang

Photos of the Jamaican Emancipation Day celebration in Enfield, Connecticut

One of the missions of the Shade Research Collective is to document and highlight the workers, past and present, of the Connecticut River Valley’s tobacco fields. On August 1st, Professor Jason Chang and, AAASI Activist-in-Residence, Mike Keo visited the Jamaican Emancipation Day celebration at the Jarmoc tobacco plantation in Enfield, Connecticut to photograph the event. More than 300 Jamaican tobacco workers came to the celebration. Professor Fiona Vernal also attended as part of her on going work with the West Indian diaspora in central Connecticut. The event was an opportunity to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of these workers under the stressful conditions of the pandemic.

Release of “Cultivating Dignity”

Update from Shade Research Collective Members, Alycia Bright Holland and Kristen Morgan


MAY 1, 2021

Cultivating Dignity—a newly devised work by Alycia Bright Holland and Kristen Morgan—was originally envisioned as a mainstage theatrical production, and will now premiere as a film adaptation. This change in format is made possible in part due to the involvement of Brian Day (Film faculty in the Performing Arts Department) as Director of Photography and Film Producer. This production will explore the lives of tobacco agricultural workers in Connecticut, during the time when young Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked at Cullman Brothers farm, to help pay for his tuition at Morehouse College. Using methods of theatre-devising drawn from Frantic Assembly, Tectonic Theatre Project and Theatre of the Oppressed, Eastern students and faculty, along with playwright Darcy Bruce, worked together to develop Cultivating Dignity.  As we did with Thread City in 2017, documentary research (conducting oral histories, researching archival documents—including photographs, film/video, and ephemera) was undertaken to create an original script. Consequently, the story dives deeply into issues of labor, migration, race, and cultural identity. A public film screening of Cultivating Dignity will be premiered May 1, 2021, and will be available subsequently for online viewing. There are also plans to create a small touring project to visit K-12 schools across Connecticut, in order to engage young audiences.

ICYMI – Shade Research Collective Symposium

Power, Migration, and Culture in and out of the Tobacco Valley

April 24, 2021 9AM-12:30PM


“Imperial Frames and Colonial Politics in the making of the Tobacco Valley”

Jason Oliver Chang
Associate Professor of History and Asian and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut

“The Long Shadow and Legacies of WWII Labor Programs”

Fiona Vernal 
Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, University of Connecticut

“Puerto Rican Tobacco Worker Migration to Connecticut”

Elena Rosario 
PhD Candidate in History, University of Michigan


“Manifest Disablemment”

Sony Coráñez Bolton 
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Latinx and Latin American Studies, Amherst College

“Beyond the Fields: Gender, Labor, and the Public Legacies of Puerto Rican Farm Workers and Needleworkers”

Aimee Loiselle
Postdoctoral Fellow, Smith College

“Cultivating Dignity”

Alycia Bright Holland 
Associate Professor of Theatre, Eastern Connecticut State University

Kristen Morgan 
Associate Professor of Theatre and New Media Studies, Eastern Connecticut State University