Boston Area Puerto Ricans Join Historic Campaign

The May 2 event inducting nine leaders of the Boston Puerto Rican community into Centro’s 100 Puerto Ricans Preserving Our History campaign exemplified the strength of how one generation inspires the next.

Jeffrey Sánchez, a Boston state representative, was on hand to applaud his mother, honoree Maria Sánchez, founder of the Mission Main Tenants Task Force. Felix G. Arroyo, a former city councilor who recently ran for mayor and is currently the chief of city’s Department of Health and Human Services, applauded his father, Felix D. Arroyo, also a former city councilor (at large) and the first Latino to run citywide. And the entire dance troupe Estrellas Tropicales came to honor their late founder, honoree Felita Oyola, and they also entertained the over 100 participants in the event held at Villa Victoria.

Six other outstanding achievers were also honored – Jovita Fontanez, first woman/and Latina elected to and commissioner of the City of Boston’s Election Department; Miguel Fuentes, a longtime small business owner and Mission Hill community activist; Dr. Ernesto González, professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School; radio host José Massó; Purple Heart medal winner Tony Molina; and combat veteran Jaime Rodriguez, president of the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square Association.

The Boston achievers joined the more than 100 individuals or organizations who have already agreed to donate their papers and/or oral histories to the Centro Archives as part of the campaign, which is aimed at preserving the legacy and heritage of the Puerto Rican community in the United States. Their contributions will add regional depth and breadth to the holdings of the renowned Centro Archives.

“The Boston leadership expressed great appreciation for being recognized for their achievements,” said Omar Dauhajre, Centro’s communications coordinator, who introduced those honored. “But they also understood how important it is for them to donate their unique stories to the Archives.”

Centro Director Edwin Meléndez noted that Centro had long been focused on the New York metropolitan area because that was the center of Puerto Rican life in the United States. “But as the Puerto Rican population grew and moved to communities across the nation, Centro needs to move with them, documenting lives in the new enclaves and introducing the far-flung communities to the services and research Centro provides, ” Meléndez said. He pointed out that the Boston was the site of the second Massachusetts event; the first in Worcester. Similar events have been held in Miami, Central Florida, Philadelphia, Washington and Chicago.