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Remembering David Ortiz Last Game against the Yankees

Image: upi.com

Image: upi.com

Famed baseball player of the Boston Red Sox, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, played his 117th and final game against the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Sept 29th 2016. A pregame ceremony was held to honor the DH (designated hitter) with his family and teammates. Yankee retiree Mariano Rivera, along with the NY team, presented him with a gift of a painting, highlighting the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Ortiz’s baseball career in the US started in 1998, playing for the Minnesota Twins. His tenure with the Red Sox began in 2003, where just a year later, he helped “break the curse” for Boston, winning their first World Series since 1918. The Red Sox won two more World Championship games since.

Other than baseball, Ortiz is quite the philanthropist. He helped his city heal after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, including his assertive statement as the start of a game, “This is our f***ing city!”, which he said too quick to be censored during the live broadcast.

With a heart for children, he founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which is committed to helping children in New England and the Dominican Republic with critical pediatric needs. He also appeared in an episode of the YouTube series “Undercover Lyft”, where celebrities disguise themselves to be a Lyft driver for a day and surprise their passengers! Check it out below:

Ortiz is now officially retired as a major league baseball

What You Didn’t Know about Carmelo Anthony

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Carmelo Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York to an African American mother, Mary and Puerto Rican father who he is named after. He is the youngest of four and before his third birthday his father passed away , leaving Mary a struggling single mother.

While his mother worked as a housekeeper, his much older siblings helped to raise him as they lived in the projects of Red Hook. To pass the time, Anthony would watch hours of March Madness and NBA Playoff games.

After the passing of his father, his life would go on to change more once his siblings went on their own paths and left home. This time around, Mary had to take care of Anthony on her own and she moved her son to Baltimore when he was eight. What she didn’t know was that the area called the “The Pharmacy,” was plagued by drugs, prostitution and crime.

To keep her son away from trouble she threatened to keep him off the basketball court if he didn’t behave. This incentive would later help him in his high school, college and NBA career as a basketball player. By 1999, the high school sophomore from Towson Catholic High School was becoming one of the best ball players in the Baltimore area.

Although he was 6’5″, Anthony and his mother knew he wasn’t ready for the big leagues of basketball yet.  To keep from slipping with grades in school, Anthony later attended the strict Oak Hill Academy, and worked out more so that he would go from a skinny high school basketball player to become a possible division one college prospect. By the time he graduated he went to Syracuse University where he shined by helping the team out of a slump to become a winning streak that led to the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Carmelo-Anthony

 

From this point, the freshman and his teammates knew he had what it would take to join the NBA. He left college, with his coach’s support, and he became part of the top three picks in the NBA for 2003. He was selected by the much beleaguered Denver Nuggets. Once again, this time he went even further than his college team and brought the Nuggets to the playoffs, and later that year helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in the Olympics.

More change would come in Anthony’s life. His behavior on and off the court started leading to his reputation as being “thug like,” and he knew that he quickly had to change his ways.

In 2008, the U.S. Olympic team would win a gold medal at the Beijing games redeeming themselves from the previous Olympics. When it came to playing in the U.S., the Nuggets went through turnover after turnover with coaches. After eight years with the Nuggets, Anthony was traded for the Knicks.

If there was anyone to help mellow Anthony out during that transition to the Knicks, it was Alani “La La” Vasquez, his girlfriend since 2004. In 2007, the couple welcomed their only child, son Kiyan and by 2010 the couple had married shortly before the trade announcement. In 2011, the Knicks made it to the playoffs and Anthony tied his postseason personal high of 42 points. Now, Anthony is playing for the team that he grew up watching during his childhood.

 

More Carmelo Fun Facts…

He owns a Soccer Team in Puerto Rico
♠He holds the record for the most points ever scored in the Madison Square Garden by any player in history. This game was in 2014 and he managed to get a whopping 62 points!

♣Carmelo and his Puerto Rican dad share the same first name. His dad also sadly passed away when Melo was only 2 years old, and the passing was due to cancer

♥He was cut from his high school team as a freshman.

♦He bought a pet camel.

♣He’s afraid of cats.

♠He listens to Willie Colon every day.

♥His father, Carmelo Iriarte, was a member of the Young Lords.

♦He won the Big East Rookie of the Year Award 10 times surpassing Allen Iverson even though he was in college for one

♠He became the sixth youngest and the 40th player to score 20,000 points in his career this year

♦He was on the cover of LatinTRENDS Magazine

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What You Didn’t Know about Celia Cruz

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Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, or for short Celia Cruz, was one of the most accomplished singers of the 20th century. Hailing from humble beginnings in the poor neighborhood of Santos Suarez in Havana, Cuba, her mother knew immediately that she was destined to be a singer.

It was on the radio in diverse Santos Suarez where Cruz would grow up listening to all types of music. Rumba, mambo, guaracha, bolero, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano was apart of her musical education. As a youth Cruz and her sister were taken to cabarets to sing by their aunt. At radio stations, Cruz sang tango “Nostalgias” (unrequited love songs) to win cakes during the “Hora del Te” broadcast, often coming first place.

Her piercing and powerful voice carried a great warmth. At a music conservatory, her own professor took notice of it and told her to drop out and let her talent shine as she was already gaining momentum on the radio for her recorded and live performances in the late 1940s.

Her vocal style was distinctive because it incorporated pregon, the wails of street vendors (usually fishmongers and peanut vendors). As an Afro-Cubana, her early music was influenced by santeria (Cuban blend of Christian and traditional African religious music) songs which used the religious African dialect of Lucumi.

After leaving school she was the singer for a dance group, Las Mulatas del Fuego. In 1950 she was the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, one of the most prominent Cuban orchestras. But that didn’t come easy, because when she joined Sonora, she was replacing a previous singer and she had to gain the public’s support. By her bandmates sticking up for her, Cruz eventually became well love not only in Cuba, but throughout all of Latin America. Slowly, she was becoming the leading female voice of modern salsa at a time when the music was dominated by men.

Soon, Cruz’s life will change forever, for better and for worst in the early 1960s. While travelling with Matancera in Mexico, Fidel Castro came to power turning Cuba into a communist country. With all but one bandmember refusing to go back under such a regime, Castro issued them a lifetime ban. Over a year later she would take up residency in New Jersey and marry Matancera trumpet player Pedro Knight.

In the mid 1960s, she followed the New York music scene which had musicians from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of salsa, she also sang guaracha and all the other types of Latin music she grew up listening to. This was a time of experimentation when many artists would blend and mix many different musical styles and perform with musicians from different styles of music.

By the 1970s, Cruz made music with Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, and the Fania AllStars. She had a catch phrase, Azucar, which she used to energize her audience and band. Also, she became a fashion icon because of her bold, daring, and wild costumes and wigs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she performed and was featured on songs with Wyclef Jean, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, and David Byrne. By the early 2000s, The Celia Cruz Foundation was created in order to help impoverished students that wanted to study music.

Celia Cruz made music until her death from brain cancer in 2003. Within the 55 years that she made music, she released 75 albums, 23 of which went gold. Throughout her career, Cruz was honored as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, and the Queen of Latin Music.

Fun Facts

  • She was awarded an American National Medal of the Arts
  • For the 2015-2016 TV lineup, Telemundo will have a musical drama about The Queen of Salsa
  • While with La Sonora Matancera, Cruz and the group appeared in five motion pictures
  • She sang the spot for WQBA in Miami
  • There is an exhibit in Washinton D.C. dedicated to her

 

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New York’s Havana Film festival. Now Through April 7th

New York’s Havana Film festival Now through April 7th.

HFFNY RUNS MARCH 30 – APRIL 7, 2017

The Havana Film Festival NY (HFFNY) announces two new and hot releases coming from Chile and Uruguay to join the competition for the Havana Star Prize: Vida de Familia (Family Life), a 2017 Chilean drama directed by Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, which premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and El Candidato (The Candidate) by renown Uruguayan actor Daniel Hendler, who recently won Best Director at the Miami International Film Festival.

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Family Life, the collaboration between Chilean directors Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, is an adaptation by writer Alejandro Zambra of his own story (Jiménez also directed a feature film version of Zambra’s previous novel, Bonsai). A funhouse mirror of self-examination, one that turns intimate spaces inside out and reveals how even the most private corners of our lives are not entirely safe from invasion.

The Candidate, second film directed by Daniel Hendler, delivers a behind-the-scenes tale of a campaign run in an effort to get voiceless millionaire Martin Marchand (Diego de Paula) elected to office. A team of advisors is brought in to shape the image of Marchand, producing social media profiles, commercials and a new public persona. Conflict arises when it is revealed that not everyone is who they present themselves to be. Is fiction mirroring reality or vice versa?

HFFNY will award the Havana Star Prize for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor/ Actress. The awards will be given at the Closing Night Ceremony, April 7 at 6:30 pm at the New York DGA Theater (110 West 57th Street). The recipients will be chosen by three prominent members in the film industry, award winning directors Flavio Florencio (Made in Bangkok), Martin Rosete (Money, Voice Over); and actor Carlos Enrique Almirante (Fátima, Four Seasons in Havana).

The 18th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) showcases the diversity of Latino voices and stories in a program that includes over 35 films. This year, HFFNY pays homage to one of Cuba’s foremost forces in animation and storytelling, Juan Padrón, and the late Argentine director Eliseo Subiela. The festival continues its tradition of presenting the history of Cuban rhythms with a cinematic retrospective on the music, religion and dance of the island. Plus, our audience can look forward, as they do every year, to screenings of critically acclaimed films, many in their World, US and NY debut accompanied by panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other special events hosted by leading figures in Latino cinema.

 

HFFNY Venues:

  • Bronx Museum First Friday HFFNY Kick-Off at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture: March 24, 2017
  • DGA Theater: March 30 & April 7, 2017
  • Museum of the Moving Image: March 31 to April 1, 2017
  • SVA Theatre: March 31 to April 2, 2017
  • The NY Film Academy: April 3 & 4, 2017
  • Art exhibition opening & screenings at The Clemente: April 3, 5, 6, 2017
  • AMC Loews at 34th St: April 5 & 6, 2017

 

The presenting sponsor of the 18th HFFNY is NBC/Telemundo 47. Additional sponsorship is provided by El Diario La Prensa, Cuba Travel Network, Roger Smith Hotel, Singani 63, Habanero Films, AMC Independent, New York Film Academy, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Aguijón Films, DGCine, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, Funglode, Horns to Havana, Ron Barceló, Lipariri Photography, OnCuba, EnRola TV, QueensLatino.com, Playa Betty’s, Cinefuegos, Matiz Latin Cuisine, Publimax, and Giovanni Quinche. HFFNY is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State legislators and supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council.

Detailed information about all festival programs available at www.hffny.com

The Havana Film Festival New York is a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through programs in the arts.

 

Op-Ed by NYC School Chancellor Carmen Fariña on “A Path to College and Careers”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Op-Ed: By NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Navigating the college process can be challenging for students and their families. As the first person in my family to go to college, I know how stressful this process can be. As Chancellor, getting every student on the path to college regardless of their home language or zip code and graduating a productive citizen is at the heart of what I want to accomplish. In support of this effort, across the City today we are celebrating College Awareness Day.

Now in its second year, College Awareness Day promotes a college-going culture across all New York City schools and encourages students to consider a wide range of college and career options. And now as part of the DOE’s first College and Career Month, 250 high schools are participating in career exploration events and activities. This means schools will be visiting companies and non-profit organizations to shadow professionals, and inviting alumni and recent college students to discuss college and career planning with students. We are also hosting the first-ever citywide Summer Enrichment Fair on January 28, where high school students and families can learn about summer employment opportunities and participate in career skills and planning workshops. Educators across the City are helping students understand that going to college is attainable with hard work and determination and families should can overcome the financial considerations, geographical barriers, or other roadblocks.

2017 College Awareness Day

College Awareness Day is part of College Access for All, one of Mayor de Blasio’s Equity and Excellence for All initiatives. Through College Access for All, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus by 2018 and every high school student will have the resources and support to develop an individual college and career plan by 2019. For the first time this spring, every high school junior can take the SAT free of charge during the school day and we’ve also eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students applying for college, removing a significant financial barrier for families.

Early Conversations and planning around college and careers are critical, and helping our youngest learners see higher education as attainable begins with raising greater awareness of what college is and why it matters. We are laying this groundwork early, by building on our promise of Pre-K for All, working toward universal literacy in 2nd grade by 2026, and expanding bilingual programs in classrooms as early as pre-K. Every student must have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and we are making unprecedented investments to make that a reality – especially for students who are new immigrants, just learning English, and will be the first in their family to go to college.

Every day can be College Awareness Day across the City. Our schools will continue to share information with students and families about college and career readiness as the school year moves forward. By making a clear path to college and career for everyone, we are going to make a real difference in our City and country. I encourage all educators to share their college experience with students and continue the college conversation today.  Additional information about College Awareness Day and College and Career Month are available at: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/OPSR/CareerExplorationMonth.htm. Together we can eliminate obstacles and make the path to college and careers for all a reality.

What You Didn’t Know about Romeo Santos

romeo santos

Anthony “Romeo” Santos, or just Romeo Santos to his fans, may be considered the modern “King of Bachata”, but it wasn’t that long ago that the half Dominican, half Puerto Rican heartthrob was simply a shy kid writing poetry at home to try to woo a girl that use to be mean to him.

“She wasn’t the nicest girl. I expressed myself by writing poems and lyrics (to her but) I kind of thank her now for being so mean to me,” said Santos.

Growing up in the Bronx, Santos was exposed to hip-hop, R&B and Latin music. The introverted singer continued to find his voice after joining his church choir and in 1994 he decided to form a group with his cousin Henry Santos and friends Lenny and Max Santos, in which he was the lead singer.

The group would later go on to be called Aventura and be the first bachata group to hail from the U. S. instead of the Dominican Republic. Despite the group’s rise from the streets of the Bronx, to its first cover on a magazine, Dominican Times/Latin Trends, and to stadiums around the world, Aventura received a lot of initial backlash from older traditional bachata listeners and musicians. By fusing bachata with R&B, hip-hop, rock and reggaeton, bachata purist didn’t acknowledge the group as making bachata music.

In spite of the criticism, Aventura went on to achieve international success with songs like “Obsesion”, which is covered in multiple languages throughout Europe, and the album which it’s included, “We Broke the Rules”, topped the pop charts in the United States and broke sales records for a bachata album.

In 2012, the once timid Santos decided to go out on his own with his debut solo album, “Formula Vol. 1.” Vol. 1 was the best selling Latin album of that year, was critically acclaimed and went on to be certified Triple Platinum. The bachata tracks on the album were written, produced and arranged by Santos. The superstar producer, Rico Love,  worked on the English songs. Vol. 1 has five consecutive chart topping songs on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs, “You,” “Promise,” “La Diabla,” “Mi Santa,” and “Rival.”

“I want to touch people’s lives with my music and my lyrics,” said Santos.

Santos’ Hollywood debut was in the blockbuster hit movie, “Furious 7” and his second film will be in 2016’s film adaptation of the video game “Angry Birds.” Santos’ second solo album, “Formula Vol. 2”, which he is on tour for now, became the best selling Latin album of 2014. It features songs like, “No Tiene La Culpa,” about a gay youth’s struggle with his sexuality.

“The message is that we shouldn’t worry about anyone’s sexual preferences, nor color, race, language, or anything, because we are all equal… this is not a gay record, this is a reality song,” said Santos, a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.

Fun Facts

  • He is the first Latino to headline a concert at Yankee Stadium
  • He helped usher Drake and Nicki Minaj into bachata music
  • His music is in heavy rotation on jukeboxes, second only to the Rolling Stones
  • He sang in English and Spanish when he was in his church choir
  • He has won all 28 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ awards

By Naeisha Rose

View complete celebrity profile section: http://bit.ly/1OIZF0p

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A Message from the NYPD to New York’s Immigrant Community

 

A Message from the NYPD to New York’s Immigrant Community

The NYPD is committed to maintaining a welcoming environment for immigrant communities while also maintaining public safety for all. With this backdrop, the NYPD believes it is important to reiterate our immigration related policies.

The NYPD accepts the city’s IDNYC as a valid and recognized form of government-issued identification including for the issuance of summonses and Desk Appearance Tickets.

The NYPD does not inquire about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others who call or approach the police seeking assistance.

The NYPD does not conduct civil immigration enforcement. Specifically, this department does not enforce administrative warrants issued by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents or federal immigration judges solely in connection with civil immigration violations.

It is our city’s resolve to remain a safe and welcoming place for all immigrants.

THE NYPD IS HERE FOR YOU.

 

CUNY’s City College Innovation may help change Solar Energy

A low-cost, nonflammable battery with a high energy density and the capability of thousands of more recycling cycles than any comparable battery to come out of a laboratory has been developed by researchers at The City University of New York’s Energy Institute.

In research published in the journal Nature Communications, the Energy Institute said the battery is in the same class as the familiar AA, but its energy density is potentially high enough to equal that of lithium ion batteries, without the danger.

 

Scaled up, it would allow electric utilities, commercial and residential buildings and homeowners to store electricity generated by solar and wind systems to provide power at night and when the wind isn’t blowing. Scaled down, it offers a safe alternative to widely used lithium ion batteries, which have caused fires in cell phones, airplanes and electric cars.

 

 

“Batteries for [power] grid applications such as integration of renewable power must be low cost, of high cycle life and energy density, safe, reliable and composed of easily acquired materials requiring relatively simple manufacturing processes,” the paper says. Previous technologies “are often unsuitable for wide [grid] deployment because of cost, durability and potential safety hazards.”

Senior research associate Gautam G. Yadav, the paper’s lead author, worked with senior research associates Joshua W. Gallaway, Damon E. Turney and Michael Nyce, doctoral students Jinchao Huang and Xia Wei, and Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering Sanjoy Banerjee, who directs the CUNY Energy Institute.

Past researchers had achieved either high cycle life or what’s called “high areal capacity” – that is, packing a lot of battery electrodes into a small volume to increase energy density – but never both together. For example, one recent report achieved 5,000 cycles, but at only at a minuscule output of one milliamp hour per square centimeter (1 mAh/cm2) areal capacity. Another successfully achieved 26 mAh/cm2, but with only 60 recharging cycles. The CUNY battery leaves them in the dust by getting 6,000 cycles at 2.5 mAh/cm2 and 1,000 cycles at 28 mAh/cm2.

During three years of research involving thousands of experiments, the CUNY chemical engineers achieved both goals by intercalating (inserting) copper into a kind of manganese dioxide known as birnessite that had been modified with the metal bismuth. Ford Motor Co. discovered bismuth-modified birnessite in the 1980s while developing electric cars; although it allows for many recharging cycles, no one before had figured out how to use it at high areal capacity.

The paper says the manganese dioxide cathode provides “an exceptional combination of reversibility and very high capacity” when combined with copper ions in a lattice of layered birnessite. “The resulting composite material benefits from enhanced charge transfer and complete regeneration of layered materials on each cycle.” The battery also uses a commonplace zinc anode.

The paper adds that this methodology also could be used in “other areas where layered materials are of interest like oxidation catalysts, intercalation chemistry and membranes for removal of heavy-metal ions.”

CUNY has already licensed the new, higher-density battery to Urban Electric Power, a startup based in Pearl River, N.Y., which has begun manufacturing a lower-density version of this battery that is based on somewhat different technology. Last year the state Regional Economic Development Council awarded the company $1 million to equip its factory, expand its production staff and ramp up to an initial goal of manufacturing 30,000 batteries a year. The company says its next target will be expanding to a more automated plant with 10 times that capacity.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 274,350 degree-seeking students and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

I say on Dominican Independence Day; New York’s Rich Diversity is “Kick Ass”

To many Dominican Americans Independence celebration comes twice a year, July 4th and February 27th

Independence is about liberty and the struggle of the fight to get that liberty, which we all enjoy today. Independence by default is a word with deep meaning, it’s not just about celebrating the victory of becoming independent with parties, fireworks, barbecues or “diablos cojuelos”.  It’s about not forgetting the fight of those that came before us and gave up their life, so that we in turn can enjoy the freedoms we all have today. That’s independence!

New York’s Vibrant Dominican Community currently represents the largest Hispanic group in the city (774,473) according to  Census data analysis by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies. However, that number is being debated to be well over one Million by many, but numbers aside, one thing that is visual and accountable, and that is the very much felt presence of Dominicans in New York. A presence that one can see, feel and hear throughout the city and even in parts of Jersey, PA, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Just take a walk around most local neighborhoods within Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx at the many the barbershops and beauty salons when you get your next hair cut or hairdo and you will most likely experience this culture, or when you take your car to the local mechanic or go pick up milk at the to the corner bodega or the one next to it.

Hungry? hop on in to your favorite Dominican restaurant ( there are plenty) when you crave that “arros blanco con habichuela, pollo y maduros”.

Need a cab and don’t have uber? No problem call your local taxi base and there’s a 80% probability that the driver will most likely be on his cell phone or listening to “Anthony Santos”.

Dominicans currently represent the ethnic group with the largest percentage of small business ownership in New York, according to published articles in NY Times, New York daily News and the NY post. Another interesting fact is on the educational front, although there are really no concrete studies that determine the number of College students or graduates of Dominican decent, we did find a 2004 study by Ramona Hernandez, Ph.D. director of Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY and Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, which reports that Dominican students enrolled in colleges and universities has been rising steadily. The study, indicates that in 2000 Dominican students made up 26.4% of the Hispanic student body enrolled in colleges and universities in New York City.

US politics are also an area of interest to many Dominicans. Just this year alone history was made when Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican American elected into the US congress and Thomas Perez became the first Latino ever to be elected as the leader of the national democratic party, Thomas a Dominican American who served as President Obama’s labor secretary is now the chairman of the DNC, Democratic National Committee. This was just confirmed a few days ago.

The Dominican community has contributed greatly to the fabric that makes New York the greatest city in the world and will continue to do so together with other cultures. So today we celebrate our Dominican heritage in unity with all, because it’s not about being less than or better than. It’s about respecting others and their cultures, while embracing our own, it’s this rich cultural diversity that makes New York a “ Kick Ass” city and the capital of the world.

As a Dominican American, I take pride in being American and in my Dominican roots. I was born in Santo Domingo, raised in Brooklyn and became an American Citizen by choice many years ago. I acknowledge the blessing of living in a country where I can cherish and respect both cultures, but even more important, I am grateful that at the end of the day, we are all one nation under God, as truly we are all brothers and sisters beneath the sun. I also acknowledge that as humans and as a Nation we are not perfect and that’s ok, because that gives us even more reason to strive to thrive. As an entrepreneur with an affinity towards forward thinking people and forward moving causes, I want to say, on this day celebrating Dominican Independence; God Bless America!

Meaning of “Dominican”
The word “Dominican” has a meaning beyond the one of being born in the Dominican Republic… it actually means “God’s sons.” According to our history, this name is given to us after a group of religious educators, who arrived on the island of “La Hispañola” when we were still a Spanish colony.

Colors of the Dominican flag
Our Dominican flag represents our Independence.. the first Dominican flag was designed and created by María Trinidad Sánchez, Sánchez’s aunt, where she included blue, representing God’s blessings over our nation, red representing our liberators’ blood and the white cross symbolizing our Independence as an inheritance from those who fought for our freedom.

 

Fight for freedom! A short history of the Dominican Republic
After Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, a point when many cultures clashed during the Spanish colonization of “La Hispañola” island, as he called it, the Dominican Republic then became a battle zone where French, Spanish and Haitian troops fought for our land.

Soon after,  Spain suddenly became uninterested and left the Dominican Republic – after gold was found in México and other areas in America, but the land was soon invaded by French troops and affected by the Haitian Revolution; events which revolutionized the course of our history.  After the reconciliation between slaves and French men, the Spanish troops were defeated by forces led by General Toussaint Louverture, and it was in 1795 when France took over the island, with the abolition of slavery proclaimed by Louverture in Santo Domingo.

When the French forces returned to France after several years, the Haitians then invaded the towns of Santiago and Moca causing not only many deaths, but quite a dislike from residents from the Eastern part of the island, since they were forced to give up their language, culture and beliefs, adapt and become French speaking country.

Of course, the situation wouldn’t last forever… in 1838 a man named Juan Pablo Duarte who was born in Santo Domingo and founded a secret society named “La Trinitaria” and along with his good friends Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, secretly planned on putting an end to Haitian repression. How?

In 1843 they joined a Haitian movement to defeat Boyer (the French leader), after which they were exiled and imprisoned in Puerto Príncipe by the new Haitian President, Charles Riviere-Hérard, since he feared their revolutionary ideas of independence. However after an attack produced by Haitians, Charles definitely needed the help of “La Trinitaria” and they were then released.

Meanwhile, Buenaventura Báez, who was a wood exporter and also Deputy at the Haitian’s National Assembly, was negotiating with France a way of establishing French forces in order to protect the Haitian Government from rebels – and since Duarte, Mella and Sánchez knew about this event, on the 27th of February 1844 they immediately declared their Independence from Haiti! You may ask how?…

The canon shot by Matías Ramón Mella on the night of the 27th of February 1844 at the “Puerta del Conde” (now famous for this event) was the official declaration of the Dominican war of Independence, which was supported by Pedro Santana (who became the Dominican Republic’s first President) along with hundreds of his workers and residents from Santo Domingo. To cries of “Dios, Patria y Libertad” (God, Homeland and Freedom), the Dominican flag was raised for the first time at the “Puerta del Conde” and the Haitian forces were confronted – causing the, to retreat and meaning that the Dominicans were finally free!!

Although Haiti tried to invade on several other occasions, the Dominican Republic maintained its Independence for 17 more years, thanks to Pedro Santana’s bright idea of handing the power back to Spain – but that’s a different story! We will be publishing more details about it soon!

 

Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” in One Book, One New York Initiative

New York City is proud to be the creative capital of the world,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The One Book, One New York initiative provides the perfect opportunity to bring City residents from all five boroughs together through reading. This initiative will inspire New Yorkers to unify in their appreciation of the written word and to share in the support of the city’s important publishing industry.”

“One Book, One New York will help readers connect with one another while rediscovering their local libraries and their independent neighborhood bookstores,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “One Book, One New York will reignite conversations about reading throughout the City, from our libraries to our subway platforms, from our local bookstores to the coffee shop.”

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As part of the program, five celebrities appear in videos advocating for a particular book.  Bebe Neuwirth, William H. Macy, Giancarlo Esposito, Larry Wilmore and Danielle Brooks are rolling out the campaign. New Yorkers will then vote on the book they think everyone should read. Announcement of the final choice is set for March.

All of the nominated books have a connection with the New York City area, and copies of them are available in each New York Public Library branch. The nominated books are:

  • Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Between the World and Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • The Selloutby Paul Beatty
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

 

 

Vote for your favorite here: