Puerto Rican Obituary and the Meaning of Sotomayor's Accomplishment

by Angelo Falcón
Whenever there is a momentous occasion in the Puerto Rican community, like the swearing-in (Saturday) of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I always try to get some perspective by revisiting the late Pedro Pietri's epic verse, Puerto Rican Obituary. While some have commented on the historic vote confirming Judge Sotomayor this past week being on the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the also historic federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), I also like to acknowledge that this is the 40th anniversary of Pedro's first reading of Puerto Rican Obituary in El Barrio.

Puerto Rican Obituary reminds us how far we have come as a people, and how far we have yet to go. It is also a reminder of how the Puerto Rican experience, although not technically one of immigrants, parallels many of the realities that Latino and other immigrants face today.

We have acknowledged and celebrated our collective accomplishment with a Justice Sotomayor in the Supreme Court as Latinos. Now the work continues in the fight for social justice for our people and all humanity. As
Puerto Rican Obituary shows us as a historical baseline, we have made some real progress, but much still needs to be done. Keep a copy with you and refer to it next time something amazing happens.

Un abrazo.

Angelo Falcón is president of the National Institute for Latino Policy. This article was originally published in the Institute's e-newsletter.

Note: See the related blog entry below and listen to Pietri recite the Puerto Rican Obituary.


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