Voices in Focus: Forward Wins Battle to Display Washington’s Letter to Jews

This "Know your Rights" mural in Astoria was painted by teenagers. (Photo by Maria Fitzsimons)

The Queens Chronicle‘s photo above shows a new “Know Your Rights” mural outside Ravenswood Houses in Astoria, unveiled last week.

The organization worked with high school students from its Youth Power Project in Jackson Heights to combat discrimination by painting the half-a-block mural with unique messages, under the guidance of commissioned Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez. The mural was completed in three and a half weeks by up to 20 teens who worked on it each day.

In other news from the ethnic and community press:

* After some Asian business owners in Queens expressed dismay at New York State Sen. Tony Avella’s push for a state law requiring that business owners to post signs in English, Avella made his case to the Flushing Chinese Business Association last week, OurChinatown reported, via World Journal and Sing Tao Daily.

He defended his pitch and push for a proposed bill to force New York store owners with signs in a foreign language to provide English translations. This bill has actually been a personal quest for him, dating back to his City Council terms. He said he was fully aware of the political implications of this type of legislation in heavily ethnic areas, but his proposal is aimed predominantly at public safety and the economy.

Avella has argued that English signage helps emergency responders to find the correct address.

(Image via The Jewish Daily Forward)

* The Jewish Daily Forward chronicled a year-long campaign by its reporter, Paul Berger, to get public access to a document that has long been cherished by American Jews — George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in which he pledges that the country’s fledgling government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Berger first heard that the document was hidden from public view at a lecture more than a year ago.

As the Forward detailed over several months of groundbreaking coverage, Berger discovered the original letter was locked away for nearly a decade in a nondescript art-storage facility near a football stadium in suburban Maryland.

Forward Editor Jane Eisner wrote in a Daily News opinion piece that keeping the letter under wraps was like keeping the Statue of Liberty closed to visitors. To experience the importance of Lady Liberty or Washington’s letter, you have to experience it firsthand, she explained.

Berger spent many weeks untangling the mystery of the letter. He discovered that it was on display for many years. But in 2002, it was removed from public view and placed in storage.

After months of investigation and editorials, The Forward reported that the document will finally see the light of day at a special show at the National Museum of American Jewish History, opening on June 29.

* And lastly, QueensLatino ran a translation of a bulletin from Mount Sinai Hospital, warning that more than 30 percent of Latinas in the U.S. and Mexico suffer perinatal or postpartum depression, making it the number one complication of pregnancy among Latinas. The piece debunks five “Latino myths” about postpartum depression.

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