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Meet the Authors: Soy Gilberto Gerena Valentin: memorias de un Puertorriqueño en Nueva York


Two Famed Puerto Ricans Step Out Of Their Books Soy Gilberto Gerena Valentin: memorias de un Puertorriqueño en Nueva York Tuesday, May 6 10 am – Noon Hunter College 68th Street & Lexington Avenue North Building, Room C105 ¡Peposo! A Conversation with Pepón Osorio Friday, May 9 6-8 pm Silberman School of Social Work 2180 Third Avenue, East Auditorium Celebrate Two Famed Puerto Ricans Join us in celebrating the lives and careers of two great Puerto Ricans who are the subjects of recent books: Gilberto Gerena Valentín, writer, activist and one of the key figures in the development of New York’s Puerto Rican community between the 1940s and the 1970s, whose autobiography was recently published, and Pepón Osorio, one of the world’s foremost installation artists and the subject of the handsomely illustrated book on his life and work by Jennifer A. González.



The May 6 event will launch Genera Valentín’s Soy Gilberto Gerena Valentín: memorias de un Puertorriqueño en Nueva York. The audience at Hunter College will be joined on video by the author and by students, scholars and activists from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The video conference, moderated by Xavier Totti, editor of Centro Publications, will feature segments of an in-depth interview with Gerena presenting a wide-ranging discussion of his life – from his early days in Lares to his development as a giant in the labor and civil rights movements, through his career in New York City politics. The video audience as well as the attendees are welcome to join the conversation. Gerena Valentín actively worked on the foundation and development of the main post-war Puerto Rican organizations, including the Congreso de los Pueblos, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the National Association of Puerto Rican Civil Rights, the Fiesta Folklórica Puertorriqueña, and the Puerto Rican Community Development Program. During this period, he was also the director of the City Commission on Human Rights and New York City Councilman. He was a pioneer in creating coalitions with the top African-American civil rights organizations, playing a key role in mobilizing Puerto Ricans in the famous 1963 and 1968 marches in Washington, D.C., and in the 1964 New York City school boycott, the largest in the history of the United States. In his memoirs, he takes us to the core of the ongoing union, political, social and cultural struggles set forth by Puerto Ricans between the years following the Great Migration and the 1970s. At the May 9 event, Osorio, the artist, will be joined in a panel discussion with two scholars who worked on a book on him. They are González, author of the book entitled Pepón Osorio and who teaches in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York; and Chon A. Noriega who wrote the foreword to González’s book and is a professor in the UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and adjunct curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In Pepón Osorio, published by University of Minnesota Press (2013), González engages in an in-depth and eloquent study describing how Osorio’s experiences have informed many aspects of his work. Osorio (whose full name is Benjamin Osorio Encarnación) was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1955. He is noted not only for his exploration of form across diverse cultural registers but also for his commitment to an artistic process grounded in social justice, collaboration with disenfranchised communities and blurring of the institutional boundaries for artistic practice and exhibition. He was educated at the Universidad Inter-Americana in Puerto Rico and Herbert H. Lehman College in New York and received a masters from Columbia University in 1985. Osorio’s pieces, influenced by his experience as a social worker in the Bronx, usually evolve from an interaction with the neighborhoods and people among which he is working. His work has been shown at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; and El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. He lives in Philadelphia. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP email centro.events@hunter.cuny.edu.