The Nuyorican Movement is a cultural and intellectual movement involving poets, writers, musicians and artists who are Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent, who live in or near New York City, and either call themselves or are known as Nuyoricans. It originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s in neighborhoods such as Loisaida, East Harlem, Williamsburg, and the South Bronx as a means to validate Puerto Rican experience in the United States, particularly for poor and working-class people who suffered from marginalization, ostracism, and discrimination.
The term Nuyorican was originally used as an insult until leading artists such as Miguel Algarín reclaimed it and transformed its meaning. Key cultural organizations such as the Nuyorican Poets Café and CHARAS/El Bohio in the Lower East Side, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Agüeybaná Bookstore, Mixta Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, El Museo del Barrio, and El Maestro were some of the institutional manifestations of this movement. The next generation of Nuyorican cultural hubs include PRdream.com, Camaradas El Barrio in Spanish Harlem. Social and political counterparts to those establishments in late 1960s and 70s New York include the Young Lords and ASPIRA.
CHARAS / EL BOHIO
Puerto Rico’s history and culture in the Lower East Side, known to much of its Puerto Rican community as Loisaida, is long and extensive. From early 1400s to the end of the 1800s, Puerto Rico had slavery and was dutiful to the Spanish Crown. With granted autonomy from Spain in 1897, Puerto Rico was allowed to elect and print their own currency for a year as a territory. In 1898, The United States seized control over the territory. Being a sugar cane and coffee dependent nation allowed for the United States to intervene and rule Puerto Rico politically and economically, with no intention of giving Puerto Ricans citizenship. In 1910, the American government grew fearful of an uprising. In order to keep Puerto Rico under control from being independent, the United States imposed U.S. citizenship, never consulting the actual people who resided. Since the United States only allowed or the production of sugarcane the people started to go hungry, leaving them with no choice but to leave the island in search for a better life in the United States. Puerto Ricans began migrate to places like New York City, specifically to Puerto Rican enclaves, such as the Lower East Side, San Juan Hill, and Spanish Harlem, creating a new identity, culture, and way of life.
With the formation of neighborhoods and culture, arose a Latin American gem formerly the P.S. 64 school building. The building was renamed CHARAS/ EL BOHIO Community Center, repurposed, and appropriated into Puerto Rican immigrant life. CHARAS/El Bohio was a cultural center established in 1977. The center was built with the intention of revitalizing Loisaida, to encourage Latino pride and community action, to preserve the neighborhood and protect those still living there. The building, formerly PS 64, was abandoned by the Department of Education and taken over and remodeled by Adopt-A-Building. Much of the funding to renovate the building was provided by federal grants or directly from the City. CHARAS moved into the building shortly after, followed by the El Bohio Corporation. CHARAS was the continuation of the Real Great Society, and was spearheaded by Chino Garcia and Armando Perez.
Chino Garcia and Armando Perez were and are two of many founders and collaborators of CHARA/ El Bohio Community Center. More importantly they helped form many artists in the 1960s. They renovated classrooms into art studios and rehearsal rooms. This influenced the demographic of the Lower East Side profusely. The original organization was built in 1964 with the intention of helping youth gang members use their skills and ideals for positive use by encouraging business development and educational programs. CHARAS was also involved actively in urban ecology, developing many of the LES community gardens. El Bohio was more artistically based, hosting cultural performances and providing a space for Latino artists to showcase their work and celebrate Latino culture through the arts.
Conflicts and Controversies
Despite massive community efforts to save the building, CHARAS/El Bohio faced numerous obstacles presented by Mayor Giuliani and Councilmember Antonio Pagán, which ultimately led to their losing of the building in the late 1990s to Gregg Singer, a developer who has been attempting to demolish the building and build high rise dorms for nearly 20 years. His efforts have been repeatedly halted by CB3, who made the building a NYC landmark shortly after he began to destroy moldings of almost a hundred years of age. The landmarking of PS 64 was an immediate reaction to the beginning of Singer’s process of demolishing the building. The involvement of CB3 is especially significant, as the board grew involved after a number of Latin Kings went to them pleading for assistance in saving the building. The two groups formed an unlikely alliance in an attempt to preserve the space, and were together successful in saving it as a historic landmark, thus halting Singer’s attempts at demolition and reconstruction. PS 64 was home to a number of different organizations. Besides CHARAS (formerly the Real Great Society) and El Bohio, the building was also occupied by artists and activists who rented out studio space, an art gallery, numerous art programs and afterschool programs for students, and other artistic programs and organizations centered around music, dance, and theater. Many of the activists and artists involved in the creation and preservation of the cultural space were former or active gang members, specifically members of the Latin Kings and Queens, looking to work within their communities and foster positive change. In April 1999, CHARAS cofounder Armando Perez was found murdered outside his wife’s home in Queens a death which many presume was gang related, though there was no evidence found to corroborate this theory. At the time of his death, Perez had been deeply involved in the fight to save PS 64 from Gregg Singer.
In 2017, Mayor DeBlasio announced that he would be buying back PS 64 from Singer, and making efforts to revert the building back to a community center. The likelihood of this occurring was immediately shot down by Singer, who made a statement following DeBlasio’s claiming he had no intention to sell the building. How DeBlasio will respond is not yet known. Though perhaps one of the more powerful political leaders, he was not the first to make public attempts to retrieve the building. Councilwoman Rosie Mendez has shown open opposition to Singer during her time as councilwoman, an attitude which is held by current city councilwoman Carlina Rivera. When Rivera’s campaign was endorsed by the Villager, the author of the endorsement article discussed seeing Rivera as a teenager at a protest to save the community center when it was first lost. She has been a continuous threat to Singer since. During Rivera’s campaign, Singer distributed literature around the Lower East Side promoting three of Rivera’s rival candidates, encouraging the community to vote for any candidate besides Rivera. Despite his efforts, he must now attempt to work with Rivera, as she poses one of his greatest obstacles. Although Singer originally proposed a demolition of the building and the development of a twenty-story dorm building, his proposals have continuously been rejected by Community Board 2, as the demolition of the building coincides with the policies for construction on a landmarked building. A more recent proposal produced by Singer shows the building in its original form, remodeled only slightly, but still acting as a dorm building for college students.  As of November of 2017, community activists were advocating the city Department of Buildings to void the original sale of the building to Singer and to reacquire the building 
Literature and poetry
The Nuyorican Movement significantly influenced Puerto Rican literature, spurring themes such as cultural identity and discrimination. The Nuyorican Poets Café, a non-profit organization in Alphabet City, Manhattan, founded by Miguel Piñero, Miguel Algarín, Pedro Pietri, Lucky Cienfuegos and Richard August is a bastion of the Nuyorican Movement. Modern day notable Nuyorican poets include Willie Perdomo, Edwin Torres (poet), Nancy Mercado, Lemon Andersen, Bonafide Rojas, Emanuel Xavier, Mariposa (María Teresa Fernández) and Caridad de la Luz (La Bruja), among others. Current organizations include The Acentos Foundation originally based in the Bronx, New York City which publishes poetry, fiction, memoir, interviews, translations, and artwork by emerging and established Latino/a writers and artists four times a year through The Acentos Review, and Capicu Cultural Showcase based in Brooklyn, New York City which has produced live poetry and cultural events inspired by the original Nuyorican Poets traditions since 2007.
Latin bands who had formerly played the imported styles of cha-cha-cha or charanga began to develop their own unique Nuyorican music style by adding flutes and violins to their orchestras. This new style came to be known as the Latin boogaloo. Some of the musicians who helped develop this unique music were Joe Cuba with "Bang Bang", Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz with "Mr. Trumpet Man", and the brothers Charlie and Eddie Palmieri. Subsequently, Nuyorican music has evolved into Latin rap, freestyle music, Latin house, salsa, Nuyorican soul and reggaeton.
The development of the Nuyorican music can be seen in salsa and hip hop music. Musician and singer Willie Colón shows this diaspora in his salsa music by blending the sounds of the trombone, an instrument popular in the New York urban scene, and the cuatro, an instrument native to Puerto Rico and prevalent in salsa music. Furthermore, many salsa songs address this diaspora and relationship between the homeland, in this case, Puerto Rico and the migrant community, New York City. Some see the positives and negatives in this exchange, but often the homeland questions the cultural authenticity of the migrants. In salsa music, the same occurs. The Puerto Ricans question the validity and authenticity of the music. Today, salsa music has expanded to incorporate the sounds of Africa, Cuba, and other Latin American countries, creating more of a salsa fusion. In addition, with the second and third generations of Nuyoricans, the new debated and diasporic sound is hip hop. With hip hop, Nuyoricans gave back to Puerto Rico with rappers like Vico C and Big Pun, who created music that people in both New York and Puerto Rico could relate to and identify with. Other notable Puerto Ricans who made contributions to hip-hop were DJ Disco Wiz, Prince Whipper Whip, DJ Charlie Chase, Tony Touch, DJ Johnny "Juice" Rosado (Public Enemy/producer), Tego Calderon, Fat Joe, Jim Jones, N.O.R.E., Joell Ortiz, and Lloyd Banks. Currently, groups like Circa '95 (PattyDukes & RephStar) are continuing the traditions as torchbearers of the Nuyorican hip hop movement. Thus the musical relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico has become a circular exchange and blended fusion, as embodied in the name Nuyorican.
Playwrights and theater companies
Spanish-language Puerto Rican writers such as René Marqués who wrote about the immigrant experience can be considered as antecedents of Nuyorican movement. Marqués's best-known play The Oxcart (La Carreta) traces the life of a Puerto Rican family who moved from the countryside to San Juan and then to New York, only to realize that they would rather live a poor life in Puerto Rico than face discrimination in the United States. Puerto Rican actress Míriam Colón founded The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre in 1967 precisely after a successful run of The Oxcart. Her company gives young actors the opportunity to participate in its productions. Some of PRTT's productions, such as Edward Gallardo's Simpson Street concern life in a New York's ghettos.[better source needed] Other theater companies include Pregones Theater, established in 1979 in the Bronx and currently directed by Rosalba Rolón, Alvan Colón-Lespier, and Jorge Merced.
Playwrights who pioneered the Nuyorican movement include Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Tato Laviera, and now include younger artists such as Migdalia Cruz, Edwin Sánchez and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Piñero became an acclaimed playwright with Short Eyes, a drama about prison life which received a Tony Award nomination and won an Obie Award. Candido Tirado and Carmen Rivera, Obie Award-winner for her play La Gringa; and Judge Edwin Torres wrote Carlito's Way, the saga of a Puerto Rican drug dealer which eventually became a Hollywood film.[better source needed] Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Tony-Award-winning actor and playwright best known for the musicals In the Heights and Hamilton.
Currently, spaces such as B.A.A.D. (the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance), established in 1998 by the dancer and choreographer Arthur Aviles and the writer Charles Rice-González in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx, provide numerous Nuyorican, Latina/o, and queer of color artists and writers with a space to present and develop their work. Many additional groups use the two theaters at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in Loisaida for their events.[not in citation given]
The Nuyorican Movement has always included a strong visual arts component, including arts education. Pioneer Raphael Montañez Ortiz established El Museo del Barrio in 1969 as a way to promote Nuyorican art. Painters and print makers such as Rafael Tufiño, Fernando Salicrup, Marcos Dimas, and Nitza Tufiño established organizations such as Taller Boricua. Writers and poets such as Sandra María Esteves and Nicholasa Mohr alternated and complemented their prose and lyrical compositions with visual images on paper. At other times, experimental artists such as Adal Maldonado (better known as Adál) collaborated with poets such as Pedro Pietri. During this time, the gay Chinese American painter Martin Wong collaborated with his lover Miguel Piñero; one of their collaborations is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the 1970s and 1980s, graffiti-inspired artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat achieved great recognition for their work. Installation artists such as Antonio Martorell and Pepon Osorio created (and continue to create) environments that bring together local aesthetic practices with political and social concerns. In 1992, Nuyorican artist Soraida Martinez created the art of Verdadism, a form of hard-edge abstraction where each painting is accompanied by a written social commentary. Born in Harlem in 1956 and also influenced by the 1960s social movements, the artist created a painting depicting the Nuyorican experience, “Between Two Islands, 1996.” Since 1993, the Organization of Puerto Rican Artists (better known by its acronym O.P. Art) has opened a space for Puerto Rican visual artists in New York, particularly through its events at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side.[not in citation given]
More recently painters and muralists such as James De La Vega, Miguel Luciano, Miguelangel Ruiz and Sofia Maldonado have continued to expand and explore this tradition. The work of galerists, curators and museum directors such as Marvette Pérez, Yasmin Ramírez, Deborah Cullen, Susana Torruella Leval, Judith Escalona, Tanya Torres, and Chino Garcia has also contributed to this effort and helped Puerto Rican and Nuyorican art gain more recognition.
Nuyorican writers and poets
- Miguel Algarín, co-founder of Nuyorican Poet's Cafe
- Jack Agueros
- Giannina Braschi, celebrated author of the postmodern classics Empire of Dreams, Yo-Yo Boing! and United States of Banana
- Julia de Burgos, author of Puerto Rican poetry classic "Yo misma fui mi ruta"
- Jesús Colón
- Victor Hernández Cruz
- Nelson Denis
- Sandra María Esteves
- Tato Laviera
- Felipe Luciano
- Nancy Mercado
- Noel Quiñones
- Nicholasa Mohr
- Jesús Papoleto Meléndez
- Pedro Pietri, co-founder of Nuyorican Poet's Café best known for "Puerto Rican Obituary" He was the poet laureate of the Nuyorican Movement.
- Miguel Piñero, dramatist best known for the play "Short Eyes"
- Bimbo Rivas
- Abraham Rodriguez
- Bonafide Rojas
- Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican
- Piri Thomas, author of Down These Mean Streets
- Luz María Umpierre
- Edgardo Vega Yunqué (also Ed Vega), author of The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle
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