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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Biloxi’s Ethnic Shrimping Communities


Sammy Montiforte, commercial fisherman

Sammy Montiforte literally owes his life to the seafood industry: his parents met when his father arrived to unload his catch in Biloxi. And so Sammy came to grow up in his grandfather’s factory, sneaking off with snacks of crab claws. And so Sammy came to grow up watching his father build boats in their backyard, learning enough to build his own after quitting school and dedicating himself to working the Gulf, shrimping in the summers and oystering through the winters. It was, as Sammy says, “Just what you did around here.”

Now Sammy talks about all that in the past tense. The boat he built himself sunk during Hurricane Katrina, but he’d sold it off before then, no longer able to make a living as a fisherman. But he misses the water. The Gulf still calls to him, and now, in moments snatched in between various jobs, he works on a boat for his son.

Date of interview:
2008-09-05 00:00

Francis Lam

Francis Lam

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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