Over fifty years ago, Gilberto Gerena Valentín was our Latino Al Sharpton.
In 1964 he led demonstrations against the police killings of three Puerto Rican men. He was a New York City Councilman (just like Bernie Sanders, he served as a Socialist), a union organizer, and a civil rights leader. Now he is gone.
In the mid 1960s, Gerena Valentín organized a citywide rent strike to call attention to slum conditions, and to rat and roach infestation in El Barrio and the South Bronx.
He led prayer marches and school boycotts to protest school conditions, and the de facto segregation in NYC public schools. Just like Congressman Vito Marcantonio, he was the people’s champion.
Just like Johnny Appleseed, he spread seeds of hope throughout the Puerto Rican community. He helped to found the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the National Association for Puerto Rican Civil Rights, el Congreso de Pueblos, the Puerto Rican Community Development Project, and the Puerto Rican Folklore Festival.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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