06/08/2013 10:56 am ET

Puerto Rican Day Parade Raises Many Questions


In the 1950s, before they became a prominent part of New York City’s tapestry, Puerto Ricans often found themselves unwelcome as they tried to carve out a place for themselves: sometimes beaten by their neighbors, given the lowest-paying jobs and even at times disenfranchised from voting by English-only literacy tests.

So, in 1958, Puerto Rican leaders decided to hold a modest parade where they could march arm in arm with pride through the heart of Manhattan. Fathers taught their children about their roots by pointing to floats dedicated to Puerto Rican towns known for coffee beans, bananas or sugar cane. Mothers tapped their feet to the African-inspired drum music that evoked memories of growing up on the island.

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