Rob Rosenthal and Malaga Island

Late last week at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Rob Rosenthal presented his radio documentary, “Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold” Rosenthal is a noted radio producer who’s well known as a teacher. He started the radio program at The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland Maine and taught there for more than a decade. For the past few years he’s been overseeing the Transom Radio Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Rosenthal also hosts How Sound, a great podcast I love and which is essential listening for anyone interested in radio and audio storytelling. The How Sound website (howsound.org) and twitter feed (twitter.com/howsoundtweets) are also essential reading.

Malaga Island is off the coast of Phippsburg, Maine. Back in the day it was a relatively poor island community notable because many of the inhabitants were of mixed-race descent. Unusual in Maine then as now, in 1912, by order of the governor, the inhabitants were evicted from the island. Eight residents were committed to the Maine Home for the Feeble-Minded. The island’s schoolhouse was moved to another island. The graveyard was dug up and the people were reburied on the grounds of the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded.

The reasons for this mass eviction were many, relating to both race and class, economic development. In the conversation afterward with the audience, people spoke about the uses of eminent domain to displace people for economic development projects, the many other government-ordered evictions of people of color throughout the country over the centuries.

It’s a great piece. The radio documentary, photographs and other material is online. Check it out at www.malagaislandmaine.org

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