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Centro Spring Events Spotlight Puerto Rican Leaders and Issues

This spring Centro is planning a series of “diverse and exciting events highlighting groundbreaking Puerto Rican figures” that have made an impact on the Puerto Rican community in literature, art and activism, said Evelyn Collazo, events coordinator, who is busy working on the calendar. The personalities include Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican and Latina librarian in the New York Public Library and children’s storyteller; acclaimed Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera; and internationally known artist Pepón Osorio.

Given the timely news subjects of Puerto Rico’s sinking economy and the myth of the island’s brain drain, Centro will also focus this spring on the issues of the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and how it will impact Puerto Ricans in the United States. Centro will host a research seminar on the new book Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium (edited by Centro Director Edwin Meléndez and researcher Carlos Vargas-Ramos), which presents new research on social, economic, political and health conditions of the Puerto Rican population in the United States.

Centro’s spring events kick off in March with a panel discussion titled Pura Belpré: Walking Outside the Book, which will focus on Belpré’s role as a storyteller and activist as well her aim to form a political ideology in children through her stories. Moderators will be Centro researcher Marilisa Jiménez-Garcia, who specializes in children’s literature, and Manuel Morán, founder and CEO/executive director of SEA (Society of the Educational Arts, Inc.) in Manhattan. The panel will run from 6-8 pm March 27 in the Faculty Dining Room, West Building, Hunter College 68th Street Campus.

Centro’s new book, The AmeRícan Poet: Essays of the Work of Tato Laviera, will be officially launched at the April 29 Meet the Author event, which will be moderated by CENTRO Journal editor Xavier Totti. The book’s editors, Stephanie Álvarez and William Luis, will be among the lineup of commentators discussing Laviera’s work. Co-sponsored with SEA, this literary event is from 6-8 pm at the Faculty Dining Room, West Building, Hunter College 68th Street Campus.

In May, artist Pepón Osorio, famous for his riotous, colorful and challenging installations, and Jennifer A. González, author of the book Pepón Osorio, will join at Centro for another Meet the Author event. Chon Noriega, who wrote the foreword for the Osorio book, will moderate this event, from 6-8 pm May 9 at the auditorium of the Silberman School of Social Work, 2180 Third Ave. in East Harlem.

In June, Centro will present its Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium seminar, which Vargas-Ramos will moderate. Presenters will include Meléndez and Centro researchers Kurt Birson, Luis O. Reyes and Patricia Silver. This seminar is from 6-8 pm June 3.

Centro events are free and open to the public.

For more information or to RSVP for an event, centro.events@hunter.cuny.edu.