PR Voices S2E8: One Step Further

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By Centro Staff

Welcome back to another episode of Puerto Rican Voices. This week, we’re splitting time between New York and Chicago. In the first segment, we spend some time with Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute. Next, we profile artist Jorge Luis Rodriguez and learn more about his five-decade career. Lastly, we hear from Leony Calderón who has spent the last twenty years working with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and is also responsible for Muévete, a community exercise program in Chicago.

We begin with Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in 1976. She is also an author, an academic, and very recently, the inspiration for a Marvel comics issue focusing on Taíno culture and Puerto Rican identity. In this segment, we take a look at some of the work Dr. Moreno has done in the community and how she continues to use her shine and expertise for the Afro-Latino diaspora.

Born in Puerto Rico Leony Calderón split her time between the island, New York, and Chicago. But it was always the community of Humboldt Park that felt like home. Later, she would join the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, where she has been working for the past twenty-one years. During Calderón’s tenure, she has worked to celebrate Puerto Rican culture, bring pride to the community, and oversee the growth of the annual parade. Starting in 2005, she took things one step further by founding Muévete por la vida, a community exercise program that helped her confront her own health issues. More than ten years later, the initiative has paid off, helping to inspire other members of the community.

Nature provided early inspiration for Jorge Luis Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican-born artist that has spent the last five decades in New York building a diverse and impressive body of work. Rodriguez began as a painter then switched to sculpture, learning to develop and incorporate more and more techniques into his increasingly complex works. Ceramics, photography, wood carving, among others. In this short portrait of the artist, we listen to the artist explain his creative process and relationship to the observer. We also take a special retrospective look at the body of work he’s produced over his long and successful career.

There’s always room to grow and improve upon the past. This change can begin with an institution that didn’t exist before or dedicating one’s time to the ones that already exist. On a personal level, it’s the pursuit of learning from and confronting obstacles in life. These are Puerto Rican stories, typical of the diaspora, a legacy that carries over to each generation.

Thank you for checking in this week. We’ve got a few more episodes to go in the second season, make sure to catch them streaming online.. Until next time, #BoricuasOnline.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.