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Community as a Campus (CAAC) in Full Gear

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro

The Community as a Campus (CAAC) has been organized to support the schools of Greater Humboldt Park, which feed into the neighborhood high school, Roberto Clemente Community Academy. The CAAC implements it’s support through three education institutes that work with parents, support youth leadership development and school improvement and innovation.

The goal of the CAAC is to support all our schools for the benefit and success of the students, families and the community they serve and to align curriculum and resources to achieve this end.

Finally, the CAAC is a ”Community Action Council” of the Chicago Public Schools. There are nine councils in the Chicago land area and are comprised of 25-30 members, tasked with developing a strategic plan to achieve educational excellence in their respective school communities. For more information see the Family and Community Engagement web page of CPS.

The CAAC meets twice a month. For more information contact Marvin Garcia, CAAC coordinator at


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15th Annual Haunted Paseo Boricua-Humboldt Park Take Over!

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro


This year marked the 15th anniversary of Humboldt Park’s Halloween tradition of converting the Paseo Boricua business district into a corridor of Halloween inspired cultural interactive activities, learning opportunities, family friendly performances and safe trick or treating on Division St. between Campbell Ave. and California Ave. About 400 children and their families were able to trick or treat for candy and healthier snack alternatives as part of our Healthy Kids Halloween initiative at over 35 local businesses and organizations along Paseo Boricua. Division Street was decorated with hay bales, corn stalks, unique Puerto Rican in uenced decorations including large paintings of skeletons with Puerto Rican eye patches, bomba drums carved like jack-o-lanterns, festive vejigantes by local artist Lebster Pabon, artistic scarecrows by muralist Cristian Roldan and a selfie wall painted by Puerto Rican artist Veronica Velez.

To celebrate our 15th year of Haunted Paseo Boricua, this year’s theme included a “Haunted Quinceñera Main Stage” hosted by local rapper Pinqy Ring and Puerto Rican B96 radio host, Gabriel Ramirez! Main Stage hosted a costume contest for prizes for the “Best Family, Best Child and Best Toddler” costumes with prizes sponsored by the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Ciclo Urbano! Costume winners went home with board games, a children’s bicycle and razor scooter. Performers including local hip hop and spoken word duo and activists Lester Rey and Logan Lou, singer/song writer and producer, Che Guevara and Singer Ricardo Suarez serenading families with original music.

Haunted Paseo Stations included Puerto Rican scary story telling at Urban Theater Company/Batey Urbano, face painting, games with prizes by El Rescate and Vida/SIDA, Urban Agriculture worm culture give away by Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, children’s books as treats by Consuelo Lee Corretjer Day Care, Musical Chairs and Zumba by Muevete at the Diabetes Empowerment Center, Fortune Telling by La Bruquena Restaurant, Dancing Vejigantes at Africaribe Cultural Center, and Photos by local photographers Elias Carmonas, Charlie Billups and Carlos Munoz.

The PRCC’s Haunted Paseo Boricua would like to thank the organizing committee and businesses for their contributions and volunteers and making Haunted Paseo Boricua memorable and a success this year: The Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, UIC’s Puerto Rican Studies Course and Roberto Clemente Community Academy; Ald. Roberto Maldonado, State Rep. Cynthia Soto and DSBDA.

By Janeida Rivera
Photos by Charlie Billups


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Cartas a Karina Book reception: Poets Martin Espada and Juana Goergen “We Stand with Oscar”

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro




On Oct. 28, 2016 The National Boricua Human Rights Network sponsored a book reception for Cartas a Karina with Puerto Rican poets Martin Espada, who wrote the introduction to the book, and Juana Iris Goergen, poet and professor at DePaul University. During the light dinner, at Nellie’s Puerto Rican Restaurant on Paseo Boricua, Jose E. Lopez, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director, introduced Juana Goergen, who spoke about reading the letters as they were published in Puerto Rico’s newspaper El Nuevo Dia several years ago, and how she was moved by the correspondence. She felt deeply honored to be able to speak about the Letters to Karina”, and composed an original piece of prose, for the event.

In Chicago, the book is available for $15.00 at 2546 W. Division St. It’s also available online at:

Martin Espada, also in town to promote his new book, “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed”, spoke movingly of his father, famous civil rights photographer Frank Espada, and growing up in Brooklyn. He referenced it as he spoke about Chicago, saying, he felt that he had come home when he saw the gigantic Puerto Rican flags on Paseo Boricua. “I’m from Brooklyn, and proud of it- but there is no place like Chicago for Puerto Ricans,” Espada said. He ended by saying, “Years from now, I want my grandchil- dren to know, in this moment, such an important moment for the Campaign, that I stood with Oscar like all of you stand with Oscar.”

by Alejandro Molina, National Boricua Human Rights Network.

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Ald. Moreno Convenes Community Meeting on Proposed Teacher’s Village

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro


A community meeting was called on November 2nd by Chicago 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno at the former Von Humboldt Elementary School. PRCC and its partners, IFF, a non-proft community development organization, and the RBH Group, discussed their vision and initial plans to convert the now vacant building into a Teacher’s Square: a mix of teacher housing, a community-focused market and café, and a public square.

Ron Beit, a principal of RBH Group, presented the proposed site plans and designs for members of the community to provide input. The proposed project includes the renovation of the building into 84 rental units with a mix of studios, one and two bedroom units for teachers; a marketplace that would sell prepared foods and include communal tables for dining, and a space on the central main floor dedicated to bringing educators, parents, and youth together to learn.

The development also would include 34 units in above story building along Rockwell, an adjacent parking garage with enough spaces to serve both the residents and visitors to the market, and a central plaza designed to be a gathering space for residents as well as for the greater Humboldt Park community.

The former Von Humboldt Elementary School is currently owned by Chicago-based IFF. IFF has a long history of investing in and working with nonprofits in Humboldt Park, and it specifically recruited the RBH Group as the developer for this project because of its previous work in developing other teacher and education centered project counts for teachers to live there. He also said that a traffic study would be conducted as part of the process.

PRCC’s Executive Director, Jose E. Lopez spoke in support of Teachers Square and of PRCC’s engagement in the development to date, emphasizing that were it not for IFF’s interest and involvement, the building might have gone to a developer that would not be as engaged with the community or concerned about affordability. He also spoke about PRCC’s vision for the “Community As A Campus” and how the project would support that vision in the community. Raymond Valadez, Alderman Moreno’s Chief of Staff , also spoke in favor of the project.

Other attendees included neighbors, local nonprofits, schools and churches, and members of the East Humboldt Park Neighborhood Association. Additional community meetings to discuss Teachers Square will be scheduled as the project moves forward.

by Rich Wallach, IFF

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Ald. Maldonado Advances Transfer of Von Humboldt Annex to PRCC

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro

  • To expand future home of Consuelo Lee Corretjer Childcare and Nancy Franco Maldonado Parent Development Center



The Chicago City Council Committee on Housing unanimously approved the transfer of the Von Humboldt School Annex, 1345 N. Rockwell, to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, (PRCC) as part of its Community As A Campus initiative, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2016.

The Puerto Rican Cultural Center was tapped to convert the one-story annex, 1345 N. Rockwell St., into the Consuelo Lee Corretjer Day Care Center and Nancy Franco Maldonado Child Parent Center, which the city says would o er “free or reduced-rate childcare services for up to 150 children from low-income families.”

The daycare center would “provide a new dimension to early childhood education in the 26th Ward,” Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) said in a prepared statement.

It’s named — in part — after Maldonado’s late wife, Nancy. Nancy was an important advisor to Ald. Maldonado on education, particularly, Early Childhood Education. She lost a battle with pancreatic cancer late last year.

The space will serve as the hub for early childhood and educational practice and for the Community As A Campus initiative. The building would be sold to the PRCC for $1, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s offce and it will make an initial investment of $50,000 to renovate the annex and playground. The sites are valued at $1.5 million.

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Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro

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On December 1,2016, Puerto Rican Cultural Center-Vida/SIDA hosted a World AIDS Day 2016 event at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC). The event began at La Casita de Don Pedro where an altar was created by Co-chairperson of the Chicago Chapter of TransLatina Coalition, Maritxa Vidal, followed by a candlelight vigil in memory of those who have died of AIDS and in support of people living with HIV. After the vigil, attendees participated in a procession to the NMPRAC where the World AIDS Day Program was held.

Joining Vida/SIDA were our community partners and sponsors, Erie Family Health Center represented by Esther Morales, a Case Manager of Lending Hands for Life, a program that provides medical care for those diagnosed with HIV, and Sanford Gaylord, from US Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke eloquently of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Affordable Care Act, Viral Hepatitis, and other health initiatives.

The Keynote speaker was Dr. Tahseen J.Siddiqui, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Norwegian American Hospital with which Vida/SIDA has established a partnership and has implemented a program called Integrated Paseo. The above program directs and offers services such as Counseling and Testing for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Hepatitis-C to the LatinX and African American population in Chicago. Dr. Siddiqui provided the audience with a detailed Power Point presentation on HIV/AIDS prevention, stigma, and statistics and the beacon of light that exists today for those who are living with HIV.

The event program ended with two of Chicago’s top Drag Queens, Milani Ninja and Naomi Ninja, who entertained the audience with two dynamic musical performances. Vida/SIDA’s World AIDS Day event was a program promoting education, awareness and a vision of hope that as we continue our struggle, HIV/AIDS will soon be a disease of the past.

By Ricardo Jiménez, Vida/SIDA

Photos by Ed Negrón

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STRAIGHT TALK: Black/ Brown Building on a Broken America

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

DuSable Museum and National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture Feature Joint Event: “STRAIGHT TALK”


Headlines to headlines, we read about the many challenges, especially our young people in Chicago are faced with in this era of uncertainty. For us, it’s unacceptable. That is why, in an unprecedented move, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture and the DuSable Museum have partnered in a timely, yet provocative discussion: STRAIGHT TALK: Black/ Brown Building on a Broken America. Featuring the renown lecturer, writer and civil rights activist, Felipe Luciano, who addressed students and discussed issues they face around Black and Brown Unity.

Billy Ocasio, CEO of the NMPRAC said, “I am proud to partner with the DuSable Museum in an educational lecture on how we must all be treated with dignity and respect. Society has looked at us as different, and while our traditions, culture, language, hair and skin color may look different, inside we are the same; we are part of the human race. I believe things can improve in our society if we learn how to value, appreciate and celebrate our differences as well as shared experiences.”

Students were selected from various high schools to be a part of something new, creative and timely in Chicago. This session took place, on October 21, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture. Students heard first-hand the struggles they face from a person who also faced those same challenges as an Afro-Latino teen and survived to share his message and to answer questions.

It is our hope that in these tough times in Chicago, our students will be able to connect, think and dream of their future. Luciano focused on adolescent challenges as well as the young students need for cultural coalition. “Young people need inspiration and guidance, not hatred and condemnation”, said Felipe Luciano.

In addition to this student event, a lecture at the DuSable Museum took place with over 300 Latino and African Americans in the audience who listened, laughed and clapped to a profound lecture from Felipe Luciano.

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Queer Rican Event at NMPRAC

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

A Critical Community Praxis on Meaning and Identity

Queer Rican Event at NMPRAC

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On Saturday, October 22, Lawrence La Fountain, Puerto Rican author, performer, and academic Lawrence La Fountain spoke at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, to an audience of over 75, about his book, “Queer Ricans.”

Lawrence spoke to his identification as a young gay man in Puerto Rico, overcoming obstacles and fear, and along the way becoming grounded in his identity. He touched on many different issues, among them the Puerto Rican fiscal crisis, the Puerto Rican Diaspora, LatinX identity and freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Emmanuel Garcia, activist and journalist, led the Q and A session, fielding questions from the audience and where possible, connecting them to the larger issues discussed.

Emmanuel also led a Panel discussion with Humboldt Park neighborhood teens on LatinX life. Suzy Schultz of Public Narrative, also led an Audience Storytelling workshop that integrated audience personal stories into the broader themes touched by La Fountain.

The event was part of “Home is Where the Art Is” — a collaborative effort of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, the Great Books Foundation, the Chicago Cultural Alliance, and Public Narrative, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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British Newspaper Guardian Highlights the Case of Puerto Rican Patriot Oscar Lopez Rivera

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro


The well-respected English newspaper e Guardian published a poignant and powerful call to President Obama to grant clemency to imprisoned patriot Oscar Lopez Rivera on October 16, 2016. The U.S. version of  paper described in a detailed and lengthy article the breadth of the support to free Oscar Lopez, his birth and early life in Puerto Rico and his move to the U.S. The article then moved on to discuss Oscar Lopez’s transformation from a fun-loving person to the person he is today.Th e transformation was initially due to his military service in Vietnam, where he saw the destruction reaped by the unjustified U.S. war on the people of Vietnam. The transformation process continued due to his involvement in the movement to free the Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners, which later resulted in his participation in the armed clandestine movement to free Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez explained that, as a colonial subject, he had the right to engage in armed struggle to free his nation. Oscar emphasized that any actions of the armed movement were of an “armed propaganda” nature, mean- ing that the goal was to focus on companies that exploit Puerto Rico but not to kill people. However, as the author noted, Oscar Lopez renounced violence more than twenty years ago and now considers that there are other more appropriate methods of struggle to win sovereignty for Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez has not wasted a day while he has been in prison. He is an avid reader, consuming books and articles. He helps other prisoners learn Spanish and teaches them to read and write. He is an accomplished painter. He taught himself to paint in prison when he realized his isolation in solitary confinement, for all but two hours a week, surrounded by yellow-gray walls was actually affecting his ability to distinguish colors. He maintains, not only his mental health, but also his physical health by an extensive regime of exercise.

As the article makes clear, it is way past the time to bring him home. It can happen if President Obama takes the fair, just and correct action and grants him clemency.

By Melinda Power

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Community Victory in Humboldt Park Advisory Committee

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro



Community Victory in Humboldt Park Advisory Committee



Tonight a victory of enormous proportions has been won in Humboldt Park. is is a very sobering victory because we had to expose a fellow human being that for reasons known to her has had a misinformed and misguided opinion about who we are in the Puerto Rican community and our history and the struggles that many of us on daily basis fight to survive and to achieve signicance.

My heart is filled with joy as many members of our community were there, some with their little flags that somebody else had criticized as being cheap.

Their smile tonight was as big as their hearts and believe me tonight some felt that they were important and that their opinions counted.

The room was tense and the expectation that something nasty was about to happen never materialized, at the end the joy of victory was swift and the embraces and the love was heartfelt.

With this victory, we chart a new day in Humboldt Park, a new day in which many recognized our pain and realized that we need to be dealt with respect as fellow human beings. I recognize Jessie Fuentes, Janeida L. Rivera, Xavier Nogueras, Catherine Mueller Serpa, Carol Ann, Michele Miner, Mikey, Jesus the park district supervisor, Alderman Maldonado, Nilda Montanez, Raquel Torres, Pastor Ruben Escobar Pepin, Juanita Irizarry, Carl the garden guy, My mentor Maggie Martinez (You are an inspiration to me) Nancy Diaz, Marilyn Morales, the Park District Department Head and finally Amy Vega who I recognized has tried to bring and respect diversity in area that is difficult because of the realities of our changing communities in Chicago.

Lorena B. Billups Sarah and Pachi your joy and your smiles when we are feeding the geese and ducks live constantly in my heart.

To the Corillo of Humboldt Park you bring me joy and you might not think I see you, but I do and I love you.

Tonight I extend a hand of fellowship to those that don’t see things as we do. Inside our hearts there is forgiveness for the insults that we have received, we ask you to walk in our shoes and join us in the fellowship known as Humboldt Park.

Originally published on

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