Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring Latino History of Rhode Island

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Screenshot: Latino History of RI

This Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) we are highlighting great work being done across the U.S. that is by Hispanics and/or focuses on Hispanics. Today we want to shine a light on the Latino History of RI.  The website profiles Latinos in New England and their contributions.

Within the website you’ll find Nuestra Historias: The Blog of the Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island.  It is the brainchild of Marta V. Martínez, an independent oral historian. They are interviews with many of the Latinos who have built a life in Rhode Island.

The project was started in 1991 when Martinez met and recorded the life of Josefina Rosario who was the co-owner of Fefás Market. Rosario and her husband operated the first bodega in Rhode Island. She became known as “Doña Fefa”, the mother of the community.

Martinez would go on to record the audio history of many Latino pioneers: factory workers, community leaders, activists, artists, politicians educators and social service workers. She focused her work Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians and Guatemalans who reside in Rhode Island.

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Screenshot: Nuestras Historias 

In 2016, a Latino Fotohistorias History Markers was set up in Providence, RI. It was the first to recognize the contributions of Latinos to the state’s history, near where Dona Fefa’s market once stood.

Congrats to Marta V/ Martínez for getting the Latinos stories out to the public and showing that many Latino men and women are making a difference.

SOURCES

Providence Journal, Tribute to R.I. woman who sponsored Dominicans kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 2016

Nuestra Historias: The blog of the Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island

 

Latina outs Alabama student who carried a “Put the Panic in Hispanic” sign at a high school pep rally

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Screenshot: Jennifer Lopez Facebook

On the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, Harley Powell went to her high school in Alabama with a sign that read “Put the Panic back in Hispanic.”  It doesn’t appear anyone at Robertsdale High School told Powell to put down the sign.

Jennifer Lopez Vasquez was angry and wasn’t going to let Powell get away with it. She let the world know on Facebook. Here is her post.

 

This happened yesterday at our school pep rally. They know it’s Hispanic Month. That’s very disrespectful in so my ways. But it’s funny to think that our school thinks it ” OKAY ” this is Honestly what white trash looks like

 

Jennifer’s post on social media went viral and also got the attention of the local television stations. Powell took down her Instagram account, her family hired a lawyer. He told NBC 15 “This is a kind of sophomoric joke that’s kind of just gotten out of control.”

The attorney released a statement in Powell’s  behalf where where she claimed her “right to speech” and also that she has Hispanics in her family.

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Powell Statement: FB Screenshot

 

NBC 15 story: Robertsdale pep rally sign causes controversy

As I write this blog, the school is still trying to decide what if anything will happen to the high school girl. Powell may learn from this mistake but it doesn’t appear she even realizes the magnitude of her actions.

We are proud of Jennifer Lopez Vasquez for having the courage to let us know about this teenager’s disrespect of Hispanics. This is how we make a difference. We speak up. Silence is never an option.

Thank you Jennifer!

The legacy of Celia Cruz the ‘Queen of Salsa’

There has never been anyone like Celia Cruz. She was known by fans as the “Queen of Salsa.”  We honor this talented Grammy award-winning singer this Hispanic Heritage Month.

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CELIA’S MUSIC

Here is a PBS special ” A Night of Salsa” featuring Celia Cruz and many other well known performers.

Find out more about Celia Cruz:

Celia Cruz Foundation

Biography: Celia Cruz

Sylvia Mendez helped end 100 years of segregation in California

During this Hispanic Heritage Month we honor Sylvia Mendez who helped change life for Mexican children in California when legal action ended segregation.

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Sylvia  was the daughter of Gonzalo Mendez,a Mexican immigrant and Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican immigrant. Like most parents, they wanted Sylvia and her two brothers to get a good education but they were not allowed to enroll into a “white” school.

Sylvia’s parents and other parents filed a class action lawsuit in 1945 on behalf of more than 5,000 children who attended segregated schools. They won the lawsuit.

In February 2011, President Obama awarded Sylvia Mendez the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Today Sylvia Mendez continues to share her story in schools across the country.

More information:

History on Sylvia Mendez 

Katy Jurado, Mexican actress who did it her way in Hollywood

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Katy Jurado decided early when she got to Hollywood that she would determine her career path and not fall into the stereotype of playing Mexican sexpots on film. She was already an actress in Mexico when she was discovered by an American director at a bullfight. Aside from acting, Jurado was also a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight critic in Mexico.

Jurado was offered her first American film in the early 1950’s. Her performance in the film “High Noon” won her a Golden Globe award. She was the first Latina to win that award.

For more on Jurado and her acting successes and work in Mexico and the U.S. go to the following sources:

IMBD

Wikipedia 

Antonia Pantoja, honoring the champion of the Puerto Rican community

During this Hispanic Heritage Month we honor Dr. Antonia Pantoja. One of her favorite saying was “We make the future, I make the future.” The Puerto Rican New Yorker committed her life to helping Latino high school students get an education and move forward in life.

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More about Dr. Pantoja:

1922 – Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico

1942 – Graduated from the University of Puerto Rico

1944 – Arrived in New York City

1952 – Graduated with Masters of Social Work

1958 – joined a group of young professionals creating the Puerto Rican Forum, Inc.

1961 – Founded ASPIRA

1970 – established the Universidad Boricua and the Puerto Rican Research and Resource Center

1972 – Fought for bilingual education in New York City

1997 – President Clinton awarded Dr. Pantoja the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She became the first Latina to receive the highest honor the nation bestows on a civilian.

 


Other sources: 

ASPIRA: Our founder 

National Association of Social Workers

Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating Hispanic women who have changed the world

This Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15- Oct. 15) we will be honoring Hispanic women who have worked to make life better for others, especially the Hispanic community.

These are women who have made an impact in education, politics, art, journalism, science, civil rights, tech and other fields. Some of these Hispanic leaders are still with us today and some are not, but their legacy lives on.

MARIA L. DE HERNANDEZ FOUGHT AGAINST SEGREGATION IN TEXAS SCHOOLS

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Read more about Maria Rebecca Latigo de Hernandez and her hard work.

Texas State Historical Association