Voces de la Comunidad was conceived by Janine Carambot Santoro, a former Adult Services Program Coordinator at the South Side Branch of Bethlehem Area Public Library and currently the Director of Equity and Inclusion for the City of Bethlehem. The collection includes the recorded interviews and interview transcripts of Intersekt Alliance Consultant Guillermo Lopez Jr., the first Latino Mayor in PA, Jose Rosado, the first Latina judge in PA, District Justice Nancy Matos Gonzalez, NCC Professor Emeritus Maria Teresa Donate, Community Archivist Javier Toro, Author, Performer, and Professor Javier Ávila, BASD Advocate and Educational Consultant Iris Cintron, Former Councilwoman Olga Negrón, Founder of the Puerto Rico Beneficial Society Don Ismael Garcia, and Former Director of Student Services and Minority Affairs, Dra. Vivian Robledo. The collection focuses on the Latinx/Hispanic community’s accomplishments from 1969 to the present in Bethlehem, PA. Themes, topics, and patterns that emerged in our conversations were migration experiences, racism and colorism, obstacles in gaining representation, and advocacy in the areas of housing, business, politics, and education.
Janine noticed the absence of written, visual, and auditory history of the local Latinx/Hispanic community in Bethlehem, PA. Janine and the oral history team asked, “What does it mean to be Latinx/Hispanic in Bethlehem and how is that changing?” The team sought to uncover and amplify the critical stories, significant events, and contributions that this community has made in Bethlehem by talking to its prominent leaders. Alongside her were her co-collaborator and interviewer, Javier Toro, metadata collector Ronald B. Johnson, and project consultant, Dr. Mary Foltz. Javier, who had previously worked in the Steel Worker’s Archives, was interested in documenting, through oral histories, the accomplishments of the community that he has also invested years in as a community leader. Ronald, a Lehigh University Ph.D. student, was inspired by getting to know these leaders and learning about the paths that were forged so that students like him could advance in their vocations. Mary Foltz served the team as an advisor in the oral history process and helped the team meet IRB and LVEHC criteria. She was inspired to help us tell our community’s story so the children and grandchildren of Latinx/Hispanic members of our community can see the barriers that have been overcome and the learn about strategies used to survive, thrive, and support each other in Bethlehem’s changing landscape.