INVISIBLE AMERICANS: Stories from the New Immigrants

"One of the values of seeing the immigrant experience through the eyes of children, is that children don't lie. Children get to the heart of the matter and tell you what they see. They open their hearts in the sincerest and most unshielded ways. And that's why they're such a valuable window on the immigrant experience. You want to know the truth, ask a child." 

                        -Alan Kraut, Chair of the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island History Advisory Committee

Listen to the Nationally Broadcast Program ( 60 min)  Public Radio Exchange

Listen to creators Helen Stoltzfus and Albert Greenberg speak about the program on Michael Krasny’s KQED program



Immigration is in the news every day. But we rarely hear from immigrants themselves.  INVISIBLE AMERICANS: Stories from the New Immigrants is an hour-long audio program that explores the lives of immigrants through the eyes of children. It journeys into the heart of the immigrant experience and the identity of America itself, interweaving oral histories collected by elementary-age children against a rich musical score, with historical analysis from leading immigration historians, writers, and activists.

The 20 plus stories told in INVISIBLE AMERICANS were culled from over 400 oral histories collected over a 6 year period by African-American children and children of immigrants in Oakland, California from interviews with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Although the stories come from a little corner of Oakland, they cover the globe: from Yemen to Guatemala, from China to East Texas, and from Cambodia to the Gold Coast of Africa.

Listeners hear family stories, read by a broad range of community members and actors, set to a musical score, and placed into the larger context of the American immigration experience by leading scholars and community activists.

The Immigrant Experience Through the Eyes of Children


Alan Kraut, Professor of History, American University and Chair of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island History Advisory Committee.

"The United States is often referred to as a 'nation of nations' because, in fact, so many of our people have come from elsewhere over the course of time. Our population is constantly being replenished by migration, and the movement of peoples transatlantically, across the Pacific, up from Central and South America, down from Canada. This... swirl of people from other places who bring their energy and creativity is really an essential piece of our story as a country." 

Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist and Author of "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration"

"The Great Migration was an outpouring of six million African-Americans from the South to all points, North, Midwest, and West from World War I until the 1970's. In many respects... that era was similar to the oppression other groups have experienced in other parts of the world and in other times in human history." 

Rubén Rumbaut, Professor of Sociology and Immigration Scholar at the University of California, Irvine.

"There is a historian named Oscar Handlin. He published a book that became very well known called, 'The Uprooted'. And I will never forget the opening two sentences of that book because he said, 'Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. But then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.'"

Reverend Deborah Lee, Project Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, part of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, California.

"The richness that the migrants bring to our country is a whole level of creativity and freshness and ability for us to see the world in a different way and to build connection with other parts of the world, to build connection across cultures, across religions."

art by Stefan