Young Cape Verdeans look to accentuate the positive

Distraught at seeing their countrymen fall prey to drugs and violence, a group of young Cape Verdeans in Uphams Corner decided that they wanted to celebrate the positive aspects of their culture.

"The violence that goes on has nothing to do with who we are," says Augusto Gomes.

Gomes, who moved to America 17 years ago, and about a dozen other young Cape Verdeans, many of them students at Jeremiah E. Burke High School, formed Criolus Unidus, a group dedicated to celebrating Cape Verdean culture as a way of deterring young people from getting involved in drugs and violence.

The group was founded at the Burke by Ivan Fortes, who moved to Boston only four months ago. He believes that if more young Cape Verdeans held onto their culture, they wouldn't get involved in the negative activities that are too often associated with them.

"We want to show the positive, we want to show that we can do something together and there won't be any violence," said Gomes.

The members of Criolus Unidus hoped to set a tone for 2006, and as such organized a New Year's Eve celebration at the Maxwell Flea Market on East Cottage Street. The party featured live music, a DJ, and dancing, that last all night, and went off without any incidents, said Hal Cohen who owns the building.

Gomes said the group hopes to organize other events in the future, and looks towards a big celebration in July for Cape Verdean Independence Day. Ultimately, the group wants to change the perception of young Cape Verdeans and hopes to see their positive message spread.

"All that you hear is a negative vibe, but we want to show that there's nothing to worry about," said Gomes.