Selection of Latinas and Latinos interviewed for “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights”
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Oral History Project
Minerva Diaz, artist, cultural historian, civil rights, women’s rights, and labor activist; and curator at The Dwyer Cultural Center (DCC) in Harlem. The interview, in the gallery show celebrating the legacies of beloved actors, authors, activists, educators, Ossie Davis (1917-2005) and Ruby Dee (1922-2014).
She expressed gratitude to them and to Cliff Frazier, founder of DCC, who encouraged her 3-year effort to have streets co-named in their honor. She succeeded, and in April 2019 throngs gathered on the NE corner of West 123rd Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue—cheering as two historic streets were renamed: Ruby Dee Place and Ossie Davis Way.
Deborah McGee with Ruby Dee and
Ossie Davis grandsons, Marcial Davis
and Muta’Ali Muhammad.
Of her many outstanding works, "Postcards for Progress" are the giant postcards that she has been carefully crafting. The series honor important figures like the one seen above by President Barack Obama congratulating Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Her pieces are personally signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and other well known figures. Minerva Diaz's work is collected and has been exhibit on national and international events.
Jose “Chegui” Torres (1936-2009), beloved Puerto Rican boxer, was the first Latino to win the World Light Heavy Weight Boxing Championship when he defeated Willie Pastrano (1965). Earlier, as a U.S. Army boxer, he earned an Olympic silver medal, and achieved an amazing record as a professional boxer through training with the great Cus D’Amato at Empire Sporting Club in NYC. In his long career after boxing, he was an author, boxing analyst, NY State Athletic Commissioner (1984-88), President of World Boxing Org., ESPN sports voiceover for Central and South America, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. His civil rights activism is legendary. Seen as a representative of the Puerto Rican community, he wrote regular columns in the New York Post and El Diario La Prensa and was a friend of Pete Hamill. He authored 2 biographies: Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali, and Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, adapted by HBO as the TV movie, Tyson.
Jose “Chegui” Torres with his wife, Ramona Torres at a healthcare conference in DC, covered by Alice and David Bernstein. (Photos: David M. Bernstein). Later, Ramona Torres was interviewed about the amazing role of her mother who, in the 1940s, organized the first union of Sugar Cane Workers--in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Seen here with "Chegui" is his friend, Aesthetic Realism Associate Jaime R. Torres, DPM, a founder of Latinos for Healthcare Equity during the interview for “The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights” Oral History Project.
Geronimo Valdez, interviewed for our Oral History Labor Collection has been an Airfoil Cell Operator at Pratt & Whitney (1986-present). In 2008 he was elected as a Shop Committee member of Int’l Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 1746, and in 2005 he became VP and Exec. Board Member, AFL-CIO Greater Hartford Central Labor Council. He played a role in the successful 2010 lawsuit against P&W’s plan to move work overseas, saving 1,000 jobs. At the time of this interview he was president of LCLAAA-Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Experienced Machinist with a demonstrated history of working in the aviation and aerospace industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Negotiation, Analytical Skills, Operations Management, he is a strong operations professional with a focus in Labor Studies from National Labor College.
Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez graphic artist, Latino rights activist, creator of the first Puerto Rican comic book superheroine, La Borinqueña, and originator of RicanStruction, a collaborative comic of many superheroes 130 writers and artists, whose goal is to assist in rebuilding Puerto Rico via 100% of sales. I first learned of his important work in a thrilling joint class on Taino and Caribbean history, culture, and art taught by anthropologist Dr. Arnold Perey and artist/educator Marcia Rackow at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.
They spoke deeply and passionately about the world importance of Taino history and culture for all people today, and related attempts to save this great culture from extinction, to the immensely popular 21st century work La Borinqueña and RicanStruction.
The interview ended with our exchanging books—he giving me a print of La Borinqueña, and my giving him Dr. Perey’s Were They Equal, An anti-prejudice book for children, from a traditional story of the Ndowe People of Africa retold & illustrated by the author.
Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez at his studio in Brooklyn, NY
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