Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. - Another Loss For The Hispanic Community
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Rev. Ruben Diaz
District 18, Bronx County
You should know that East Harlem also known as “El Barrio” and “Spanish Harlem” has been a “bastion” of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Community since the end of World War II, when New York experienced a large migration of Puerto Ricans to “El Barrio”, (English translation “The Neighborhood”)
It is important for you to know that on June 24, 1946, (929) Puerto Ricans boarded the ship “SS Marine Tiger” and migrated to New York with the dream to begin their new lives, rooting themselves in “East/Spanish Harlem” “El Barrio Latino”.
“El Barrio” became the ideal neighborhood for these Puerto Ricans to settle in and add to the diversity of New York making it their home, open small businesses, and raise their children. While doing so we saw the rise of Hispanic political dynasties such as families like The Mendez’s, The DelToro’s, The Anasagasti’s, and the Rodriguez’s Families among other prominent political Latino power in “El Barrio”.
Politically speaking “El Barrio” and the Hispanic Community has had a voice and has been well represented in the New York State Assembly for many decades by Puerto Rican/Hispanic elected leaders. Among them the Honorable Angelo Del Toro, Hon. Francisco Diaz, Hon. Nelson Dennis, Hon. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and lastly the Honorable Robert Rodriguez.
Recently, the Honorable Robert Rodriguez resigned in early November after being nominated as Secretary of State for New York, by Governor Kathy Hochul. His nomination left vacant the Assembly seat, in District #68, which covers “Spanish Harlem”, “El Barrio”. For the first time in many decades, the Hispanic Community has lost one of its own as their representative in “El Barrio”.
Assembly District 68 in “Spanish Harlem” “El Barrio”, historically a bastion for the Hispanic Community after decades of Latino Representatives, is now occupied by an African American, Mr. Eddie Gibbs.
With Mr. Gibbs election, the African American Community continues expanding its extensive political power throughout the State of New York, while the Hispanic Community continues to be ignored, underrepresented, and experiences a decline in political influence pushing the Hispanic Community into the margins of our society.
History shows us that when Puerto Rican political and elected officials were in power, they knew to have the backs of every ethnic group. I don’t recall ever witnessing this kind of power grab among Puerto Rican elected leaders while excluding other groups in the process.
We knew how to be inclusive, and work with all ethnic groups. We worked toward assuring equal distribution of Social Services, housing development programs, we introduced Bi-lingual education in public schools and governmental institutions, we developed Model Cities Programs, scholarships for all, and a multitude of other social programs that benefited and served all groups. Programs that were initiated and fought for by Puerto Rican elected officials and community leaders. Our leaders were sensitive enough to look out for the needs of others, not just Puerto Ricans.
Much of our great Puerto Rican leaders have now retired, passed away, and much of the Puerto Rican community have relocated to other states. As a result, the political “baton” has been passed to other, Hispanic, diverse groups.
I don’t want to believe that with the loss of the Puerto Rican elected officials, and the reduction of the Puerto Rican population, that the new generation of leaders and diverse groups that are ascending to positions of leadership don’t have the courage, the guts, or the wherewithal to fight for the Hispanic community as the Puerto Rican Leaders of the past, courageously, did.
I am Rev. Ruben Diaz, and this is What You Should Know.