RI.gov R.I. Government Agencies | Privacy Policy |

Heritage Programs: Subcommittees: Cape Verdean Hall of Fame 2005

antoniaAntonia Ignacia Ramalho Sequeira

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1924, she was the daughter of immigrants from the Cape Verde Island of Sao Nicolau.  Her parents lived first in Warren, Rhode Island, where they worked in the mills before moving to the heart of Bridgeport’s Cape Verdean community shortly before Antonia was born.  Inspired by her traditional musical family and vibrant Cape Verdean neighborhood, Antonia Ignacia Ramalho Sequeira developed a deep love and extensive knowledge of her culture. Antonia’s collections of detailed records of community social events and family and historical photographs comprise a rare documentary record of Cape Verdeans in Connecticut during the first half of the 20th century. 

Among her numerous organizational affiliations, Antonia was a founding member of the Cape Verdean Women’s Social Club of Bridgeport (established 1944), and served as its president from 1965 to 1967 and again from 1970 to 2002 – a remarkable continuity of service.  In addition, she spearheaded many projects designed to bring Cape Verdean heritage to public attention. 

For three years, Antonia worked with community members and oral historians to conduct taped interviews with Cape Verdean musicians and tradition bearers across the state, also documenting Cape Verdean neighborhoods, festivals and activities.Their work resulted in a publication called Connecticut Cape Verdeans: A Community History that has been used by Cape Verdean organizations in Norwich and other Connecticut cities to educate people about the culture and especially the community’s gift of music. 

Younger Cape Verdeans in Waterbury, Norwich and New Haven are coming forward to carry on the oral history work that Antonia believed in so fervently.  In 1978, Antonia worked with others from the Women’s Social Club to sponsor a month-long series of lectures, exhibits and concerts highlighting Cape Verdean culture at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. 

In 1984 she was selected as Woman of the Year and her name is etched in the State Capitol Building in Hartford.  She was a member of the Connecticut Friends of the Ernestina/Morrissey, a group responsible for bringing the schooner to Captains Cove in Fairfield in 1982 as a way to educate audiences about Cape Verdean immigration. 

Antonia coordinated regular cultural displays at the Bridgeport Public Library and the annual Thanksgiving Day Mass at St. Augustine’s Church.  She held memberships and active roles in the Cape Verdean Scholarship Committee, the Cape Verdean United/Unidade Caboverdeana, the Cesar Pina Scholarship Committee, the St. James Choir, the Cape Verdean Cultural Foundation of Connecticut, and the Red Hat Society. 

Antonia passed away on February 28, 2005.  She will be remembered as a tireless ambassadress for Cape Verdean culture; as a tradition bearer herself – someone who lived a life of deep Cape Verdean-American identity; and as a woman of grace and love.  Her contributions will live on and nourish her people and our world forever.