Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold

Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold

WMPG-FM (Portland, Maine) and The Salt Institute

Rob Rosenthal, Radio Producer

Kate Philbrick, Photographer

WMPG-FM, in collaboration with the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, announces the premier of “Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold”, a radio and photo documentary recounting this infamous event and its impact on several generations of descendants. The documentary is produced by Kate Philbrick, photographer, and Rob Rosenthal, radio producer.

On July 1st, 1912, George Pease took a short boat ride over to Malaga Island, just off the coast of Phippsburg, Maine. Pease landed the boat then probably stood on the shell-covered beach at the north end of the island. What he found may have surprised him.

Pease went to Malaga that day as an agent of the state of Maine. It was his job to carry out the final steps of a state-sponsored eviction. Pease was there to clean out the island – to make sure everyone who lived there was gone and to burn down their houses. But there was no one there. Malaga was empty.

Malaga is a small island, about 40 acres. It’s covered with tall pine and spruce trees, the shores are rocky – it’s really a “textbook” Maine island. No one lives on Malaga today but, in 1912, there was a village of about 45 people. A few of the families had lived on the island for decades raising children and scraping a living from the ocean. Malaga was home.

The settlement was poor and families struggled – like most fishing communities on the Maine coast one hundred years ago. What made Malaga different was the people. Black, white, and mixed-race families lived on the island. And that set them apart. Far apart…

…And, descendants of the evicted islanders have largely remained silent, too. The local stigma of mixed-blood and “feeblemindedness” attached to the island and descendents is still present – even today. In fact, some say Malaga is a story best left untold…

Read the entire article here.
View a short video here.

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