effort to bring Ernestina back to America mounted.
Within a year, Friends Chapters were organized in Boston,
New Bedford, New York area, Providence, Scituate, and
Wareham-and later in Bridgeport and Rye. Conferences and
meetings were hosted by the American Sail Training
Association, Bridgeport Cape Verdean Womens Social
Club, Cape Verdean-American Federation, Cape
Verdean-American Veterans Association, Cape Verdean
Educators Collaborative, Cape Verdean Recognition
Committee, Cape Verdean Womens Auxiliary (NY), Cape
Verdean Relief Association, Clearwater, Inc., Durland Sea
Scout Center (Rye), First World Alliance, Mystic Seaport,
National Maritime Historical Society, National Trust for
Historic Preservation, City of New Bedford Community
Development Department, New Bedford Folkloric Troupe,
Providence Corporation, UNIDADE (Bridgeport), Town of
Wareham Community Development Department, and Wareham
Historical Society. Contributions were made by many of
these organizations as well as the American Bureau of
Shipping, Hope Settlement House and Day Care Center,
National Maritime Union and others.
The photo to the right shows the Ernestina Committee meeting with Cape Verdean Ambassador Amaro Da Luz and American Ambassador to Cape Verde, Melissa Wells, at the UN in June 1978. (l to r) Consul General of Boston, Armando Perry, Cecelia Monte, Laura Hester, Amaro DaLuz, Melissa Wells, Eddie Andrade, Luiz Fernandes (CV Ambassador to Guinea Bissau), and Joe Monte.
The photo to the right shows Joe Monte, Cecelia Monte, Pete Seeger, Laura Pires and Michael Platzer during a fund raiser in at the National Maritime Historical Society in Brooklyn, NY in June 1978.
Providence Corporation arranged for a donation of masts from Canadian Transport Company transported from British Columbia by Seaboard Shipping Corporation. Providence local longshoremen loaded them without cost and transported them to Cape Verde aboard a Cape Verde steamship. Individuals donated blocks, sails and safety equipment. Friends Chapters sent tools and supplies. The New Bedford Folkloric Troupe sent a pump. William Baker, famed Ship Historian and consultant for the National Trust, prepared a Sail Plan for Historic Preservation. Cummins Engine Company contributed new parts for the old Engine and sent an engineer from Darlington, England to help install them.
John Braman, a United States volunteer in Cape Verde on a special Humpback Whale research project, spent time working on repairs and located the Dutch Shipwright, Franz Meijer, who agreed to work in Cape Verde on the restoration. The shipwright was supported financially for 14 months by the National and local Friends Chapters. Special effort to keep the project continuing came from John Braman, Oling Jackson, Laura Pires Houston, Edward Andrade, Joe Monte and Julius Britto. A daughter was born in Cape Verde to Franz Meijer, the shipwright in 1978.
In recognition of broad-based citizen efforts, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a multi-year grant totaling $30,000 to the National Friends Committee. Spearheaded by Laura Pires Houston and the National Maritime Historical Society, these funds supported the development, design and construction of an eight panel exhibit, "Ernestina: The Human Story."
The Massachusetts Schooner Ernestina Commission was established in 1978 to receive official title to the returned schooner. State Representative Thomas D. Lopes, with support from Senator George Rogers, sponsored the enabling legislation establishing the Commission. [Today Tom is editor of the Cape Verdean News (CVN) based in New Bedford]. With the Commission in place, the organizational structure of the movement was fleshed out: a central coordinating National Friends Committee; several local support building chapters; and a legislatively-based Commission. The movements broad base is exemplified by the involvement and co-leadership of people from diverse cultural, geographical and ethnic backgrounds.