Pura Belpré, Bringing Boricua Stories to the Bookshelf exhibit title

RESOURCE GUIDE

An illustration of Martina the cockroach wearing a dress and shawl standing in the balcony of a house
An illustration of Pérez the Mouse holding a flower

Resource guide contributions made by graduate students from Dr. Christopher Busey’s University of Florida’s Fall 2022 Introduction to Afro-Latinx Studies course 

An illustration by Juliet Menéndez of Pura Belpré as a young girl wearing a beige dress against a green background with accompanying smaller animal illustrations, including Pérez the mouse and Martina the cockroach.

Juliet Menéndez (Guatemalan-American)
Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers
2021
Godwin Books
23h56211
Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries

As a Black Puerto Rican woman, Pura Belpré’s librarianship, writing, and activism are part of a long legacy of Afro-Latinx history and contributions in the United States. It is, therefore, beneficial to study Belpré’s work through an Afro-Latinx studies lens, as it provides new ways of understanding Blackness, Black Life, and Latinidad. During the Fall 2022 semester, students from Dr. Christopher Busey’s Introduction to Afro-Latinx Studies course, as a final project, were tasked with creating a resource guide to supplement the Pura Belpré, Bringing Boricua Stories to the Bookshelf exhibit. This resource guide includes essays, poetry, art, and lesson plans that aid in a more thorough examination of Belpré’s impact and contributions to Black Latinx intellectualism.

Hidden Heroine of History: Pura Belpré

Essay by Thacher Loutin

Introduction
Given contemporary arguments over diversity in children’s books, it may be especially pertinent to theorize the literary and cultural contributions of People of Color to the world of children’s literature. Hence, I feel obliged to highlight the contributions of Pura Belpré, as a figure who is almost forgotten, but is indeed wordy of being remembered. In this article, Belpré’s work and accomplishments are briefly biographically summarized. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive biography of Belpré’s life.

Pura Belpré performing stories to a group of children at the Museo del Barrio in New York

Pura Belpré telling stories to children at El Museo del Barrio, New York City from Lisa Sànchez González’s The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children’s Author, and New York Public Librarian
2013
Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College

Pura Belpré began her career as a children’s librarian, storyteller and author in the 1920s–1930s, but only within the last 20 years has this multi-faceted woman gained critical recognition in the fields of library science, literature and Latino/a studies (Jiménez-García, 2015). Born in Puerto Rico, Belpré arrived in New York in 1920 and, although having no plans to stay, began working at a branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) in Harlem the following year. I contend that her hire was of historical significance as Belpré became known as the first Puerto Rican to work for the New York Public Library.

She found fairytales and stories on the shelf from many cultures, but she couldn’t find any from her own. So, she took it upon herself to share it. She would travel across the city performing puppet shows for children in English and Spanish, bringing stories to life, and reminding her audiences that they had a place. As the New York Public Library noted, Belpré “served as a kind of library ambassador to New York’s newcomers, making sure that Spanish-speakers knew the library was meant for them, as well.” Stories hold power, as does language, which is why Belpré’s work is so essential. She opened up a bilingual world for Spanish-speaking children, not only ensuring that they had access to books and stories in their own language, but that they learned about their culture and gave them a sense of belonging. She once wrote, “I wished to plant my story seeds across the land.”

As Jiménez-García put it, Belpré’s interventions within U.S. children’s literature constitute an attempt at cultural preservation and, even further, as an attempt to establish historical memory within the U.S. for Puerto Rican children. Belpré, as a Puerto Rican who had grown up in a family with a storytelling tradition, was aware of Puerto Rican folkloric tales and, being in the environment of the library, she could have imagined the presence and the power of those stories for Puerto Rican and non-Puerto Rican children alike (n.d.[f]: 1, 2).

Understanding Belpré’s Legacy
Librarians have led the way in recovering Belpré’s legacy. Yet a more comprehensive interpretation of her experience can serve to remind the audience that Belpré was more than just a librarian.

Belpré’s children’s books and papers have been out-of-print or unpublished for at least thirty years–until recently (Barradas, 1998). For a number of reasons, including our unwillingness to acknowledge the significance of children’s literature within the Diaspora, Belpré has been underappreciated in many literary canons, whether it be Mainland Puerto Rican or otherwise. However, Belpré accomplished the admirable feat of endowing children with relics of the past in order to “dream” about the present and future, but ultimately, I suggest that her legacy needs critical consideration, especially when generations of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos/as still supposedly don’t “see” themselves in books (Rich 2012: 1; Diaz 2013: 1).

Belpré can be viewed as launching a U.S. Puerto Rican children’s culture that “writes back” to a history of American-produced texts and rhetoric about Puerto Rico and its children. This is one way to interpret Belpré within the context of children’s culture. In addition to attempting to preserve culture, Belpré’s contributions to American children’s literature also aim to help Puerto Rican kids in the U.S. develop a sense of history of their home country. Belpré was in a prime position to observe the dearth of Puerto Rican and other Latino/a literary representations because of her work as a librarian (which included shelving books, translating for customers, etc.) and contribute positively. I believe that Belpré’s encounter with Puerto Rico’s seeming nonexistence served as the impetus for her literary intervention and desire to save Puerto Rican migrants. 

Belpré’s work implies that Puerto Rican culture will continue to thrive as it did under identical colonial circumstances even if American presses never acknowledge it. Hence, we can say Belpré highlights the subversive nature of storytelling as a means of decentering narrative histories.

I admire Belpré because her librarianship exemplifies the ability to resist and exert influence in this gendered environment. She developed a resounding literary legacy that will endure both within and outside the larger Puerto Rican community. As Jiménez-García (2015) said, “If she could nurture children as seeds, then these children would secure a remnant of Puerto Rican culture in the U.S. Belpré’s legacy teaches us that the regulations within a field should be challenged, but that for those who labor in those fields, the work never ceases.”

Pura Belpré’s Award
The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian employed by the New York Public Library, is honored by the award’s name. She enhanced Latino children’s lives as a children’s librarian, storyteller, and novelist through her groundbreaking efforts to preserve and spread Puerto Rican folklore. May her soul rest in peace.

References
Barradas, E. (1998) . Partes de un todo: ensayos y notas sobre literatura puertorriqueña en los Estados Unidos. San Juan: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Diaz, S. (2013). Librarians Sound Off: Not a Lack of Latino Lit for Kids, but Awareness. School Library Journal. http://www.slj.com/2013/01/books-

Jiménez-García, M. (2015). The stories I read to the children: The life and writing of Pura Belpré, the legendary storyteller, children’s author and New York public librarian by Lisa Sánchez-González. Lat Stud 13, 137–139. https://doi.org/10.1057/lst.2014.67

Rich, M. (2012). For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing. New York Times 4 December. http://www.nytimes.com

Sánchez-González, L. (2001). Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. New York: New York University Press.

Weaver of History

Poem by Thacher Loutin

Belpré a kind of weaver of history
Although thou now in silence lie
a historically significant figure worthy of recovery
Pura is indeed a gold discovery.

A homegrown Puerto Rican
ventured into the unknown, but as a librarian, she was renown
Belpré, the storyteller, wrote and re-interpreted Puerto Rican folk tales
Until this day, her stories still prevail.

Belpré constitutes an attempt at cultural preservation
as an effort to establish historical education
preservation and dissemination of Puerto Rican folklore
A cultural memory she sure did restore.

A portrait of Pura Belpré

Studio Portrait Photo of Pura Belpré
n.d.
Pura Belpré Papers, 1897-1985, Puerto Rican Studies Library & Archives, Hunter College
https://centroca.hunter.cuny.edu/Detail/objects/9471

La mujer Puertorriqueña

Poem by Thacher Loutin

Afro-Puertorriqueña de la isla
Compartiendo cuentos populares
celebrando la cultura puertorriqueña
dotar a los niños de reliquias del pasado
establecimiento de una memoria histórica
inspirando un sentido de orgullo cultural
cultivado en los niños la noción
de una comunidad global.

Pura Belpré holding a Pérez the mouse puppet and a Martina the cockroach puppet

Pura Belpré with Martina and Pérez puppets from Lisa Sànchez González’s The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children’s Author, and New York Public Librarian
2013
Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College

“No results have been found in this book for Pura Belpré”: A Brief Historical and Critical Review of Pura Belpre’s Contributions to Literature and Education in Harlem

Essay by Beatriz Domínguez Alemán

Outside of Harlem, New York, Pura Belpré is probably a name you’ve never heard of, yet she’s an influential and unique figure in education, libraries, and in children’s literature. When asked about her, some academic circles, libraries in New York, and Puerto Rican storytellers are quick to respond: “Yes!”. Outside of this world, her name is usually met with more questions than answers. Even in books about Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance, she will remain an “easter egg” rather than a prominent character.

Pura Belpré performing stories to a group of children in New York

115th Street, story-telling group, African American children with Miss Pura Belpre
n.d
New York Public Library Archives
https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-8237-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

In most books, that are devoted to the accomplishments and personalities of the Harlem Renaissance, you will find the following search result: “No results have been found for Pura Belpré.” How can a librarian, educator, bilingual writer, and Afro-Boricua woman in the 1920s fade into the background of academia and of history?

Children’s literature has an immense stigma, which starts with the word “children.” When omitted, it becomes simply literature worthy of a Nobel Prize. In contrast, when it comes to narratives intended for the education of children, they are treated as an inferior category. Literature structures itself in a hierarchal system, which will have clear demarcations between the gender and sexuality of its authors as well as their race and ethnicity. Why is this type of writing treated as an inferior category when its purpose is the education of future generations?

In high school, a teacher once told me: “The way we treat children is a reflection of the way we treat education”. This always stayed in my mind: What really is education? One immediately thinks of schools and classrooms: the whiteboard, the image projector, desks, and the red apple. Yet education transcends these spaces and finds itself in people’s homes, community centers, and public libraries. However, educational spaces have not always been available to every gender and race in the United States, and there have been significant restrictions on access to quality educational spaces. Yet, even if children have access to what we call “quality education”, are these spaces representative of demographic diversity? Generally, we will find ourselves with a rotund “no”.

Pura Belpré is one example of a person who has been cast to the sidelines when speaking of inclusive education and literature in the United States. The following essay will address why her figure has been excluded from mainstream academia. It will also be discussed how that has affected her image as a reputable writer, educator, and revolutionary Afro-Puerto Rican librarian.

Education and Representation: Harlem in the 1920s

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”   –William Butler Yeats

Education is a tool for liberation, yet it has also been used as a method of dominance/subjugation of certain groups of society. Thus, oppressed individuals have developed different strategies for combating these types of practices. This reaches beyond the classrooms and finds itself in alternative spaces of resistance that do not have the same government control. This includes schools, homes, streets, cultural centers, and libraries. These are just a few spaces that escape the state’s scrutiny. This kind of “fugitive pedagogy”, such as Jarvis R. Givens’s details in his 2021 book, is hidden under a mask, and in the case of Pura Belpré, it was through children’s books. Before we delve into the omission of Pura Belpré’s person and as well as her contributions to society, we must understand the context of New York City and Harlem during the 1920s and 50s.

An exemplary scenario of what people call a cultural renaissance was Harlem, New York, throughout the 1920s. This neighborhood’s demographic suffered a significant shift in the 20th century by housing Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals. In 1910, there were only 10% of Black women and men living in Harlem, and there is no data regarding Hispanics/Latinxs (Roberts, 2010). The lack of reliable information concerning Hispanics/Latinxs is due to the restrictive census that only incorporated this category during the 1970s (Pew Research Center, 2010). The Puerto Rican presence in East Harlem is unquestionable and has been documented since after the First World War. This area would be known as “Spanish Harlem” and later as “El Barrio” (Historic District Councils, 2016).

During the 1930s and 1950s, the Black and Hispanic/Latinx population steadily increased in Harlem (Roberts, 2010; Historic District Councils, 2016). This brought thousands of individuals from all classes and educational backgrounds to live together in one neighborhood. The rise of habitational demand led to a price increase which affected the ever-growing population of Harlem. In spite of the fact that this period is often referred to as the Harlem Renaissance due to its enormous cultural and intellectual growth, this often obscures the political turmoil, deplorable living conditions, and shortage of employment this area was experiencing (Robertson, 2010). However, it is vital to understand that this setting does not obscure the importance of the rise of cultural, political, and social references.

New York City is marked by the Civil Rights Movement and the flourishing of Black critical thought and intellectuals. Yet the city also hides a long history of racism, especially when it comes to how the city was built and how the population was distributed. According to Biondi (n/d, p.1):

“Segregation in New York was not only widespread and lawful, but government and public policy sanctioned it and helped to create it: there were whites-only signs in Manhattan apartment buildings, racially restrictive covenants in property across the region, whites-only classified job advertisements, whites-only hotels and restaurants in the heart of Manhattan, and segregated seat assignments by American Airlines at La Guardia.”

These are just a few examples that highlight racial inequality in this city. This racial landscape will still have an impact on today’s population. One of the major problems Blacks (and at times Latinxs) faced was scarce access to employment in this city. During the 1930s, the lack of opportunities created an alarming situation in Harlem creating an alarming habitational situation. As a way of surviving this scarcity, small apartments started receiving tenants and finding novel ways of reaching the end of the month’s rent (for example, the often glorified “rent parties”) (Robertson, 2010). The precarious situation affected the growing population of Harlem, which due to “redlining,” had limited options for moving out of this human-created border (Trevor Day School Bridge Project, n/d).

Education in the 20th-century United States has also been marked by institutional racism and state abandonment (Robertson, 2018). Harlem schools are a symbol of resistance against the system and will be considered a key space for African American and Hispanic/Latinx education in the city (Erickson and Morrell, 2019). The struggle was an uphill battle, yet education is vital for promoting political thought and liberation from oppression. As we engage in this “battlefield”, we find ourselves with a “fugitive pedagogy” (Givens, 2021), and we can find people like Pura Belpré, who resist outside of the classroom. In her case, it would be through the New York Public Library in Harlem.

The words of actor, director and civil rights activist Ossie Davis described the Harlem Library as “the only home I had … the very temple of my existence, my craft, the place that trained me, the first institution to welcome me” (New York Public Library, 2022). This building was opened in 1826. In that same neighborhood, in 1906, the Countee Cullen Branch was founded. These libraries were not segregated and were open to all residents, regardless of their racial background. Ernestine Rose would be responsible for the inclusion of the first Black and Hispanic/Latinx librarians in Harlem (Jenkins, 1990).

The first Black librarian, Catherine Latimer, started her employment at the Harlem Library in 1920. One year later, Pura Belpré became the first Puerto Rican and Afro-Latinx librarian to work for the New York Public Library’s Countee Cullen Branch. Nine years later, Regina Andrews, a mixed heritage woman, is appointed to the New York Library. During this time period, Ernestine Rose’s connection to Dubois will stir the discussion regarding racism within the institution:

“For a long time no Negroes were admitted at all and the library branches, even in colored districts, paid just as little attention as possible to the colored constituency. Then, a few colored assistants were appointed but their promotion has been very slow.” (Proquest, 2016)

Although this institution was not considered to be legally segregated, the treatment of the staff and pay of the Black and Hispanic/Latinx librarians differed greatly from white individuals. Given this context, women like Catherine Latimer, Regina Andrews, and Pura Belpré, are women who resisted and fought against covert institutional racism, each in their own way.

Pura Belpré was born in Cidra, Puerto Rico between 1899 and 1902. While assisting her sister’s wedding in New York City, she obtained a job at the New York Public Library. However, she was not bound to the Harlem branch. Belpré would travel the city telling bilingual stories (Spanish and English) and challenging the notion of the Library as an “English-only” space. Her influence on the Puerto Rican community was influenced by her outreach programs which included bilingual story hours and the promotion of traditional Puerto Rican festivities. She also was an advocate for purchasing books in Spanish but also for creating some of her own.

Pura Belpré wrote children’s books based on Puerto Rican folktales. These narratives hosted social and political narratives, yet these were carefully hidden behind the animal and anthropomorphic illustrations. One of her most renowned books is Perez and Martina (1932), an interspecies love story between a rat (Perez) and an aristocratic cockroach (Martina). These two creatures are usually associated with poverty and filth and are seen in a negative light. Despite the fact that interspecies relationships are considered acceptable in the world of Perez and Martina, the tragic finale leaves the reader wondering whether or not this is truly the case. However, Martina chooses to marry an animal/insect that has the sweetest voice/discourse and does not rely solely on their physical characteristics. These types of metaphors are just a few of the contributions one can find in children’s books.

An illustration of Pérez the Mouse singing to Martina the Cockroach as she stands in the balcony of her home

Pura Belpré, author (Puerto Rican, 1899-1982)
Carlos Sánchez, illustrator
Pérez and Martina
1932
F.Warne
23h23553
Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature, Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries

In her 1969 book titled Santiago, Pura Belpré narrates the story of a Puerto Rican boy who recently moved to the United States. The main character, Santiago, tries to convince everyone of the existence of his pet hen named Selina whom he had left in Puerto Rico. He is met with disbelief, and this is worsened when he claims to have seen another hen on his way to school. Santiago’s frustration becomes an objective beyond the existence of his pet Selina: it is a form of self-affirming his identity. His teacher realized that there was something other than the hen, and understood that Santiago was living in “two places at once” and viewed his present in a different way than the other children. Towards the end of the story, the teacher helps Santiago and proves the existence of both hens. In the book, the author emphasizes the mental process of relocating to a foreign country, which was/will be a reality for many children who arrived/will arrive in East/Spanish Harlem.

Children’s books are not only for kids; they are designed for them to be read by an adult. They serve a dual purpose: to educate both children and their caretakers. By promoting reflection, and in some cases, critical thinking, they serve as a form of education that links the child and the adult by representing social realities. Bilingual books and storytelling hours, such as those created by Pura Belpré, were and still are revolutionary for marginalized communities such as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Afro-Latinx individuals. Pura Belpré is to be admired for her role as an educator in a country with limited and historically segregated access to quality education.

Conclusion
Pura Belpré’s contributions to the local community transcend her workspace inside the New York Public Library. She was the first Afro-Puerto Rican Librarian in a community mainly comprised of Black and Puerto Rican individuals at a time when segregation laws existed and affected the construction of ethno-racial identity in the United States. She was not an educator (in the traditional sense), yet gave valuable educational experiences that integrated marginalized communities such as Hispanics/Latinxs. By purchasing books in Spanish, writing dozens of books (some based on Puerto Rican folk tales), and creating outreach programs that promoted bilingual storytime, Pura Belpré challenged the image of libraries as English-only spaces in a neighborhood with a growing number of Spanish-speaking individuals.

Her image remains alive through a Literary Award by the American Library Association that started fourteen years after she passed away, a 2011 documentary recording her life, a closed public school (PS 64, New York), a recently inaugurated street, and at the CENTRO through a collection named the “Pura Belpré Papers”.

However, her legacy is underwhelming considering her achievements, and scant scholarly work has been done about her figure until this day. Up until 2011, most of what has been written and said about Pura Bepré has been in relation to the award in her name. After 2011, more articles were written about her children’s books, but her outreach programs were often left in the dark. Over the past few years, CENTRO has been the main promoter of her work, which confines these studies to New York City. Outside this enclave, she once again fades into the background.

Pura Belpré was an Afro-Latinx librarian, yet this is rarely considered in the analysis of her person. She is mainly portrayed as Hispanic/Latinx and/or Puerto Rican, and there is a clear disregard for her Black identity. The omission of her race is a reflection of the erasure of Afro-Latinx subjects. This relatively new concept incorporates the voices of historically silenced groups. For many people, Afro-Latinx is an inexistent concept because culturally, Latin America has constructed its identity around the concept of Mestizaje. The omission of Pura Belpre’s race is a direct consequence of the erasure of Afrolatinidad as a concept.
Belpré was also a children’s book writer, which also contributed to her erasure. Until this day, the most prestigious literary award, the Nobel Prize, has not been awarded to a children’s book author. However, the Pura Belpré Award, a literary prize designed for Latinx children’s book writers, keeps her legacy alive. The question remains: is this enough? Will Pura Belpré’s name start appearing in Harlem’s history books?

References
Belpre, P. (1932). Perez and Martina.

Belpré, P. (1969). Santiago.

Biondi, M. (n/y). How New York changes the story of the Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved from: https://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/justice/downloads/pdf/how_new_york_changes_the_civil_rights_movement.pdf

Evans, R. (2022). Catherine A. Latimer: Librarian of the Harlem Renaissance. Libraries: Culture, History, and Society 1 March 2022; 6 (1): 21–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/libraries.6.1.0021

Erickson, A. and Morrell, E. (2019). Educating Harlem: A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Givens, J. (2021). Fugitive Pedagogy Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching
Historic Districts Council. (2016). A Guide to Historic New York City Neighborhoods: East Harlem. Retrieved from: 6tocelebrate.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/EastHarlem-SixToCeleb.pdf

Jenkins, B. (1990). “A White Librarian in Black Harlem”. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy. 60 (3): 216–231. doi:10.1086/602232.

New York Public Library. (2022). About the Harlem Library: Retrieved from: https://www.nypl.org/about/locations/harlem

Roberts, Sam (January 5, 2010). “No Longer Majority Black, Harlem Is in Transition”.

Robertson, S. (2010). Roger Walker – A Lodger’s Life in 1920s Harlem. Retrieved from: https://drstephenrobertson.com/digitalharlemblog/maps/roger-walker-lodger/

Robertson, S. (2018). Schools in 1920s Harlem. Retrieved from: https://drstephenrobertson.com/digitalharlemblog/maps/schools-in-1920s-harlem/

Pew Research Center. (2010). Census History: Counting Hispanics. Retrieved from: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2010/03/03/census-history-counting-hispanics-2/

Proquest. (2016). Standing Up Against Racism in the New York Public Library. Retrieved from: https://about.proquest.com/en/blog/2016/Standing-Up-Against-Racism-in-the-New-York-Public-Library/

The New York Times. Retrieved:https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/nyregion/06harlem.html?pagewanted=all

Trevor Day School Bridge Project. (n/d). Evolution of New York City. Retrieved from: https://wp.trevor.org/wordpress/evolutionofnyc/a-tale-of-two-cities/

Pérez and Martina Embroidery

Artwork by Beatriz Domínguez Alemán

Beatriz Domínguez Alemán
Pérez Embroidery
2022
Fabric and thread
7 x 8 inches

Beatriz Domínguez Alemán
Martina Embroidery
2022
Fabric and thread
7 x 8 inches

Pura's Legacy

Poem by Thacher Loutin

Let’s celebrate Pura’s legacy
When Puerto Rican stories were nowhere to be found
She defied the library’s policy
Preserving Puerto Rican culture was her philosophy.

A champion of bilingual literature
Sowing seeds of storytelling and Latinx culture
Advocate for the Spanish speaking community
Ensuring children had equal reading opportunity.

Like Audre Lorde her magic is unwritten
Helped immigrant children to feel at home
Putting back their culture on a silver platter
Making sure they knew their stories matter.

An illustration by Rafael López of Pura Belpré opening a book with color swirls emerging from the pages against a cityscape background.

Margarita Engle, author (Cuban-American, 1951-)
Rafael López, illustrator (Mexican-American, 1961-)
¡Bravo! Poemas sobre hispanos extraordinarios
2017
Henry Holt and Company
E184 .S75 E71518 2017
Education Library, George A. Smathers Libraries

An Extraordinary Woman, Una mujer extraordinaria

Poem by Thacher Loutin

That which she has given us today
Is worth more than we could ever pay
For Latino children, she created a new day
We knew she would never lead them astray.

She was the best in every way
That’s all we wanted to say
An extraordinary woman in a special kind of way.

Unpleasantly downhearted and in dismay
Because her work many did not display
But either way her legacy is here to stay.

Lo que ella nos ha dado hoy
Vale más de lo que podríamos pagar
Para los niños latinos creó un nuevo día
Sabíamos que ella nunca los llevaría por un camino extraviado.

Ella era la mejor en todos los sentidos
Eso es todo lo que queríamos decir
Una mujer extraordinaria de una manera especial.

Desagradablemente abatido y consternado
Porque su obra muchos no la exhibieron
Pero de cualquier manera, su legado está aquí para quedarse.

Afro-Latinx Studies Unit Plan

Unit Plan by Michael Scofield

Resource guide contributions made by graduate students from Dr. Christopher Busey’s University of Florida’s Fall 2022 Introduction to Afro-Latinx Studies course 

This resource guide was made to accompany the exhibit Pura Belpré, Bringing Boricua Stories to the Bookshelf, on display at the George A. Smathers Library Gallery from January 23, 2023, to May 8, 2023. To access the online exhibit, click on the button below. 

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