The first instition of it's kind in U.S. History!
The WRF Culture & Heritage Institute consists of community leaders, politicians and educators of the Roma Diaspora and was formed to protect the Roma cultural and heritage practices from disappearing because of lack of use, curricular exclusion, or devaluation by the broader society. We feel it is important to spend the time and energy to protect our cultural heritage, especially in moments where our people are suffering due to a humanitarian crisis.
The idea of preservation is integral to the definition of cultural heritage, as in order for cultural heritage to exist, it must continue to be passed on as it has for generations and preserved by the current generation.
However, throughout different periods and places in history, the “present generation” of the time has placed varying value on elements of our cultural heritage. Therefor, it is in the hands of our Community Elders, Leaders, Politicians, Educators and Parents to preserve our culture.
About The Roma
The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority. Historians think the Roma’s ancestors first arrived in Europe from northern India, through what is now Iran, Armenia and Turkey. And that they gradually spread their way across the whole of Europe from the 9th century onwards. Many EU Roma are still victims of prejudice and social exclusion, despite the discrimination ban across EU Member States.
The WRF Culture and Heritage Institute believes that Roma are a lost tribe of Israel. It has been claimed that following the destruction of the First Temple in the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE, that Jewish exiles travelled to India. Only after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE are records found that attest to numerous Jewish settlers arriving at Cranganore, an ancient port near Cochin.
Roma were forced into slavery up until the 19th century in Romania and elsewhere. Roma were executed during the medieval era in England, Switzerland and Denmark. Many countries, including Germany, Poland and Italy, ordered the expulsion of all Roma. In the 1930s, the Nazis in Germany saw Roma as “racially inferior” and murdered hundreds of thousands of them during World War II. After the war, Roma continued to be discriminated against and oppressed, especially in the Soviet Union. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the Czech Republic and Slovakia sterilized around 90,000 Romani women against their will.
Romani slaves were first shipped to the Americas with Columbus in 1498. Spain sent Romani slaves to their Louisiana colony between 1762 and 1800. The Romanichal, the first Romani group to arrive in North America in large numbers, moved to America from Britain around 1850. Eastern European Romani, the ancestors of most of the Romani population in the United States today, began immigrating to the United States on a large scale over the latter half of the 19th century coinciding with the weakening grip of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Wars in Europe in the 19th century, which ultimately culminated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), freeing many ethnic Eastern Europeans from Ottoman dominance and producing new waves of Romani immigrants.
That wave of Romani immigration comprised Romani-speaking peoples like the Kalderash, Machvaya, Lovari and Churari, and ethnically Romani groups that had integrated more within the Central and Eastern European societies, such as the Boyash (Ludari) of Romania and the Bashalde of Slovakia. Romani immigration, like all Central and Eastern European migration, was severely limited during the Soviet era in Central and Eastern Europe but picked up again in the 1990s after the fall of the Eastern Bloc
Stay tuned for upcoming programs and information!