Caribbean Footprints: Tracing Jamaican Influence in American Culture through the Life of Martha Gayle with Damion R. Evans

Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture

Dec 13 2023 • 48 mins

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The Caribbean influence in the United States is undeniable, especially in states like New York. In this episode, guest Damion R. Evans helps illuminate this story through the engrossing life story of Ms. Martha Gayle, a Jamaican immigrant who journeyed to the US almost a century ago. He'll also be sharing his experiences of discovering Gayle's remarkable collection compiled by Jamaican Demar Ludford, and enlighten us about the impact of Caribbean immigrants on the American society and culture.

You'll learn about Gayle, who braved her way through the early twentieth century U.S. and found her footing in the domestic workforce, eventually evolving into a landlady in Bed-Stuy. You'll also hear about the effects of World Wars and Civil Rights Movement on Gayle's mindset, and how she turned struggles into triumphs. Our conversation with Damion not only probes into Gayle's personal life, but also expands to the broader perspective of Caribbean migration. Finally, we urge listeners to understand the significance of Caribbean history and the need for its better representation in mainstream media. This episode is not just a conversation; it's a revelation that uncovers the resilience and influence of Jamaican immigrants in shaping the US.

Damion R. Evans is a doctoral candidate in World History at St. John’s University in New York City. Damion is originally from Jamaica and is now a soldier with 20 years of experience in the US Army. Throughout his military career, he has had multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Europe. His research interest includes West Indian Immigration, as well as the region’s cultural and colonial history. Currently, his doctoral dissertation analyzes how the life of Martha Gayle exemplifies the Jamaican immigrant experience which furthers the conversation on the perceptions of black identity and culture in the United States.

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