Actress Miriam Colón to Be Honored in Puerto Rican Day Parade

Melissa Mark-Viverito with Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario/La Prensa)

Melissa Mark-Viverito with Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario/La Prensa)

Under the slogan “One people, many voices,” the 57th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade will honor actress Miriam Colón as it marches up Fifth Avenue on June 8. Colón founded and has directed the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre since 1967.

“I am very grateful. This recognition means a lot to me. I have dedicated many years to the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre to showcase our literature, our actors and the presence of Hispanics in the U.S.,” said the actress.

The event was announced at a press conference held at the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Manhattan. Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, chairwoman of the board of directors for the parade, also introduced Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council and Rep. Nydia Velázquez as grand marshals of the event.

Cortés-Vázquez highlighted the efforts both leaders have made from their public service positions in favor of Hispanics.

The parade will also honor Oscar López Rivera, who has been imprisoned for 33 years and is considered by many a political prisoner who has fought for Puerto Rican independence. The Cultural Festival on 152nd Street, a separate event taking place on May 31, will join the parade to collect signatures to release López Rivera from jail. The petition can also be signed online at www.nprdpinc.org/freedom-for-oscar-lopez-rivera.

Sandra García-Betancourt, chair of the parade’s Culture, Arts, and Education Committee, announced that the event will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos.

Additionally, the event will pay tribute to the Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “The Borinqueneers,” who served in World Wars I and II and in the Korean War. A grassroots organization has been formed to request the Congressional Gold Medal for the regiment, in honor of their “prominent role and sacrifice during World War I, World War II, and particularly the Korean War.”

The press conference brought together the new members of the parade’s board of directors, named after New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman detected anomalies in the organization’s management of funds. Cortés-Vázquez said that when they were assigned to their positions less than 100 days ago, the new members were asked to put together a parade that “proudly represented the Puerto Rican people and honored their culture,” and “that we must do that in a transparent manner and in line with all nonprofit regulations.”

“And we’ve made it,” she added. “Our slogan: ‘One people, many voices’ means that every aspect of our community will be represented in the parade,” said Cortés-Vázquez.

One of these aspects is education. According to Cortés-Vázquez, the parade has increased its student grants from $10,000 to $30,000 to help promote higher education. The grants will be awarded to 15 students. “Our goal is to give 100 grants by 2020.”

The parade will also honor actress of Puerto Rican descent Lauren Vélez, who will be madrina (godmother) to the event; radio DJ Polito Vega, who will act as padrino (godfather); and child actor Jorge Vega, 9, who appears in the film “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and has been named rising star of the parade.

The ambassadors to the event will be singers Luis Fonsi and Frankie Negrón; Jorge Viera, anchorman for Univision Channel 41; and 5-time Emmy winner Telemundo anchorman Jorge L. Ramos.

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