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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

The Puerto Rican Diaspora:
History in the Making ( The english version)

(Click here to see the spanish version)
By Manuel Hernandez

According to the 2000 United States Census statistics, there are 3.5 million people of Puerto Rican origin living in the United States mainland. Puerto Ricans who migrated to the United States before, during and immediately after World War II, and those who were born and grew up in the United States have come out of the melting pot and have become a vital force developing a voice of their own. The contributions of the Puerto Rican Diaspora to the development of the United States are vast and unquestionable.

In spite of the socio-economic conditions faced by the pioneers of the Puerto Rican migration and through time, they have become a genuine and authentic part of American society. The United States based Puerto Ricans have made a name for themselves in politics, television, film-making, music and literature. During the last twenty years, they have been recognized extensively by American industries and institutions.

In the United States House of Representatives, there are three Puerto Ricans whose parents left Puerto Rico after Operation Bootstrap paved the way for thousands of Puerto Ricans to leave the Island. Jose Serrano has been in Congress for ten years. Serrano is the leading Democrat on the Subcommittee of Commerce, Justice, State and Appropriations Committee. He represents the Latinos from the 16th District of the South Bronx. Nydia Velazquez is the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in the United States Congress and has been in the House of Representatives since 1993. Velazquez won the 1994 elections with a majority of 90% of the electorate. Luis Gutierrez is the first Puerto Rican in the House of Representatives from the state of Illinois and has served in Congress since 1992. The former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer has passed the torch of leading the Bronx borough of New York City to the young and up-coming Puerto Rican, Adolfo Carrion, hijo. Carrion’s political career has merely begun but promises to develop to further heights in the years to come.

In television and film-making, the contributions have been heroic and unique. In film-making and acting, Juano Hernández was a pioneer in a time when Latinos in Hollywood were practically non-existent. He acted, produced and directed in more than two-dozen films, and his legacy stands alone even today. The legendary star of the big and small screen, Rita Moreno, has been the only performer ever to win the grand slam of Hollywood, a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar and a Tony. The first Latino to win an Oscar in 1950, Jose Ferrer, was once selected as the American citizen with the best English diction in the United States. Miriam Colon’s mark in theater began more than four decades ago and is still an inspiration today for those Latinos interested in Broadway. For the last twenty years, Jimmy Smits’ television and film career have gone from LA Law to NYPD Blue to My Family and other major motion picture roles. Jennifer Lopez has redefined the face of the American female protagonist in films. After close to ten years in the movie industry, Lopez continues to star on her own and along side Hollywood names such as Snipes, Penn and Harrelson, just to mention a few.

Lopez’ prolific career has hit the music air-waves. With more than two-million copies sold in the United States with her first record On the Six, Lopez’ footsteps begin to make an impact in the music industry. Tito Puente’s contributions to Latino music in the United States are immeasurable. His hundred plus recordings are legendary, and his more than four decade career span place him in the pinnacle of the Latino music industry in the United States. Marc Anthony’s mark in Latino music is already in a class of his own. With recordings in English and Spanish and an HBO live concert in Madison Square Garden, Anthony promises to be one of the leading figures in music of the twenty-first century. Willie Colón began his music career more than three decades ago in the Manhattan Barrio. Colón’s status as one of the foremost representatives of salsa is untouchable and is considered a living legend amongst his peers.
The Puerto Rican Diaspora has been redefining literature ever since Piri Thomas published Down These Mean Streets in 1967. Thomas’ bestselling autobiography gave birth to a new literature which depicted the failures and successes of the Puerto Rican migration immediately after World War II. Victor Hernandez-Cruz sparked the interest in Nuyorican poetry with Snaps in 1967. Nicholosa Mohr reacted with Nilda (1973), a story of a young girl who comes of age during World War II. The experiences of the revolving door, returned migrant, stranger in a foreign land and the so-called Nuyorican have all been depicted by Puerto Rican writers in the United States. Themes include the realities of immigration, woman’s role, “la gran familia” and the influences of the American culture. Short stories, poems and essays that explore and recreate the historical and social experiences lived by Puerto Ricans who migrated before, during and after World War II have reshaped the form of American letters. Identity conflicts are examined by writers like Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Aurora Levins-Morales, Tato Laviera, Sandra Maria Estevez and Abraham Rodriguez. Poetry takes a different dimension with Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernandez-Cruz, Louis Reyes-Rivera and Tato Laviera. From Miguel Piñero’s 1973-1974 best American play, Short Eyes to the most recent bestseller by Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican (1993), United States based Puerto Rican literature is recognized by American literary critics as an emerging, dynamic and growing-literature which has developed and transformed itself into a diverse and rich body.

The Latino population is growing fast, and the Puerto Rican Diaspora accounts for 10% of the second largest minority group in the United States. In a world of many voices, Puerto Ricans whisper, speak and shout but after one-hundred years of searching for an identity, they are being heard and are ready to take their place in American history.