New York. Philadelphia. Chicago. Three major cities where stateside Puerto Ricans have installed themselves, over the course of decades, as part of the historical and cultural landscape. Moreover, these three cities also represent the diaspora in a classical sense, and represent the largest Puerto Rican populations around the country. Let’s call it the Puerto Rican Tri-State. In this week’s episode of Puerto Rican Voices, we visit each of these cities to learn about the cultural institutions that have grown from the stable presence of these communities. From a film festival celebrating Puerto Rican heritage to a helping small business owners to helping the newly arrived, much of what we celebrate as part of our cultural legacy is embedded in the three cities that many of us have call home.
First up, we present to you the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival of New York City. Occurring every November during Puerto Rican Heritage month, the festival brings audiences a multitude of films by and about Puerto Ricans. With the partnership of AfroTaíno productions, the festival showcases films from both mainland Puerto Ricans and those coming from the island, all in the effort to develop that connection between stateside and the island. In this segment we speak to Veronica Caicedo, founder of the festival, and the aspirations behind this festival. There are also interviews with many of the directors previously featured at the festival; including director Jacobo Morales (Broche de Oro, Ángel), Angel Manuel Soto (La Granja), Alex Santiago Perez (Las vacas con gafas), and Jennica Carmona (Millie and the Lords).
Next, we have the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha of Philadelphia, PA. Founded in 1970, this association was established by Puerto Rican veterans of the Vietnam War. When they had first come to Philadelphia in the 1970s, they found it difficult for Puerto Ricans to establish themselves in the city. Through this association, they helped other Puerto Ricans migrating in to assimilate themselves better into the community. Today, the association continues serving the community through various ways, such as providing Health Care, Pre-K, Affordable Food, Job Searching, and even Home Restoration services. In this segment we explore the history and good the organization has done.
Finally, we present to you the Division Street Business Development Association (DSBDA) of Chicago. This non-profit development organization is centered around Humboldt Park, where it provides technical services to the small business owners of Chicago. The organization is tasked with maintaining long-running businesses as well as with accommodating new business into Paseo Boricua, the corridor of culture for Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park area. We present to you one of the businesses, Ciclo Urbano, that has been assisted by the DSBDA. This small bicycle store has provided a great help to many of the youth of the community, offering jobs and mentoring to at-risk teens. The success of Ciclo Urbano further proves the underlying goal of the DSBDA: that strong small business can help better the Puerto Rican people and their communities.
That’s it for this week’s episode of Puerto Rican Voices! We hope you enjoy taking a closer look at the communities that have led the way in establishing stateside Puerto Ricans as a ubiquitous aspect of the stateside community. As always, feel free to join the conversation online at #Boricuasonline. See you next week!
© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 4 March 2016.