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Positive Island Reception to Centro’s Heritage Poster Series

By Clarisel Gonzalez

When Puerto Rico-based reporter Libni Sanjurjo came across Centro’s Puerto Rican Heritage Poster Series she said she felt as though she found a “treasure of information.”

A history buff with a nose for news who discovered the series on the Centro website, she pitched the story to her editors at Primera Hora, a major Spanish news source in Puerto Rico, because she wanted to shed some light on this valuable educational resource that teachers on the island could use in the classroom to teach about the migration patterns of Puerto Ricans in the United States.

The series is the result of collective efforts undertaken since the 1970s to rescue, document and preserve the long history of Puerto Rican migration and the experiences and contributions of Puerto Ricans in the United States.

With more Puerto Ricans living in the United States than on the island, Sanjurjo said, she wrote the piece because it is important for Puerto Ricans to “better understand how life is in the United States.” These days migration is very much on the minds of many Puerto Ricans living on the island, largely due to the island’s economic crisis and high unemployment rate. “It interests us to know what is happening in the United States,” Sanjurjo said, especially for those considering moving in search of better jobs and opportunities.

Her story titled “Carteles muestrán como la mancha de platano ha arropado a Estados Unidos” (Posters Show How the Plantain Stain Covers the United States), published and prominently featured April 2 on the main page of primerahora.com, definitely was written with a criollotouch. Her lead read in Spanish: “Did you know that there is a Puerto Rican presence in each one of the 50 states and that the state with the least amount of residents with “la mancha de plátano” (plantain stain) is North Dakota with 987? In rice and beans, this means there are more than 1,000 boricuas in each state of the United States.” Her report was so well received that it was one of top stories of the day, she said.

Born and raised in San Juan, Sanjurjo, who earned a master’s degree in history in Puerto Rican and Caribbean Studies from El Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y El Caribe in Old San Juan, said Centro’s poster series helped her “to identify more with Puerto Ricans who have migrated” and the contributions they have made. The series, she said, provides such relevant and interesting details that it also serves as a way of bringing Puerto Ricans closer.

Publications coordinator Noraliz Ruiz said Centro would love more schools, both on the island and in the United States, to use these English-language posters, which present the richness of the Puerto Rican community in the United States from how it was first formed to what we have become today.

The Puerto Rican Heritage Poster Series relies on and incorporates many decades of historical recovery work by Puerto Rican studies researchers at Centro and many other higher education institutions and by the dedicated team of professionals at the Centro Library and Archives. The posters include such topics as Puerto Rican cultural roots, the beginnings of the Puerto Rican presence in the United States, the Great Migration years, the fight for equality and political representation and the formation of Puerto Rican institutions and community groups.

Eight of the posters were designed to provide an attractive visual educational tool for teachers and others to use in the classroom or any suitable public spaces, and to introduce students to and interest them in the historical information highlighted in the poster captions and accompanying images. Five of the posters constitute the Brief Historical Chronology of Puerto Ricans in the United States section. The remaining three are demographic and historical maps that reflect different aspects of the Puerto Rican migration experience in the United States.

A highlight of the series is a study guide with learning goals and recommended reading materials that teachers can use in the classroom.

Centro is offering to donate a limited number of the series to schools and community organizations in both Puerto Rican and the U.S. For more information about how to apply for a donation, contact Omar Dauhajre, communications coordinator, at (212) 772-5692 or email od127@hunter.cuny.edu.

The posters are also available for purchase at the Centro Store.

For more information on the series, visit The Puerto Rican Heritage Poster Series.