Poet, Playwright, Performance Artist and long-time El Barrio resident

Long considered one of the original founders of the Nuyorican Movement, Meléndez addresses political, intellectual and linguistic topics in his work that remain relevant today. A New York-born Puerto Rican award-winning poet, playwright, teacher and activist, he began his career nearly 40 years ago as a poet-facilitator in public schools, working at workshop programs in California and New York. In 1974, Meléndez’s play, “The Junkies Stole The Clock,” was the first Latino play produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theatre’s Nuyorican Playwright’s Unit. Over the years, Meléndez has performed his poetry with his musical group “Exiled Genius,” with Eugene Mingus on piano, and M’Chaka Uba on bass, a trio that combined the tradition of jazz spontaneity and precision with the natural melody of the poetic voice in poetry/jazz collaboration.

A Poem to Know Him: for Jack Agüeros, a Puerto Rican Pioneer
by Jesús Papoleto Meléndez

Los Tainos, Our ancestors,
Did not sign their names
on the bottoms of their clay pottery,
to proclaim any fortune or fame –
Thus Columbus and them, dare lay claim
to what they captured with chains.

Nor do we know
The names of those Artisans,
Who placed their hands upon a rock, and thereby
gave their lives to make a mark upon the face of history;
Who left us these Petroglyphs, that now
decipher truth from myth.

It was Jack Agüeros,
imbued with the love and memory
of his Abuelos
Puerto Rican, East Harlem,
El Barrio born, Native son,
Therefore innately he longed
for the cause of his people,
Those native of Puerto Rico
& other poor people
mistreated equal.

From East Harlem, to the
Lower East Side, up through the
South Bronx, & into
Williamsburg – He became
Deputy Commissioner
visionary – Translator of
Julia de Burgos’ life poetry;
A poet, you know it, himself, and therefore
an activist; a Dreamer of dreams he helped bring to exist –
Such as a cultural Museum as this
for the people of the hood –
for the need of a progeny, a culture that he understood
For which he did Good!
Not for Wealth or Power –
but for the health of our community
and its needs,
And – because it still needs…
Finally, you leave us with one, new call to action:

That we remember those who are now forgetting themselves;
That we recognize the love of family, as we are all one, or alone…

How can we forget?


Commissioner, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs

T.Finkelpearl_photo250x250In this role he oversees city funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directs the cultural policy for the City of New York. Prior to his appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Finkelpearl served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for twelve years starting in 2002, overseeing an expansion that doubled the museum’s size and positioning the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities. He also held positions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, working on the organization’s merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and served as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Based on his public art experience and additional research, he published a book, Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press), in 2000. His second book, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the activist, participatory, coauthored aesthetic experiences being created in contemporary art. He received a BA from Princeton University (1979) and an MFA from Hunter College (1983).

Author, New York Daily News columnist, and co-host of Democracy Now!

JuanGonzalez_250x250Juan González is a professional journalist with over 30 years of experience, since 1987 he has held the post of staff columnist at the New York Daily News. Gonzalez is a two-time recipient of the George Polk Award for commentary (1998 and 2010), and the first reporter in New York City to consistently expose the health effects arising from the September 11, 2001 attacks and the cover-up of these hazards by government officials. González has twice been named by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the country’s most influential Hispanics and has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Puerto Rican Coalition. He is a founder and past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), and a member of NAHJ’s Hall of Fame, as well as a founding member of the Young Lords Party and of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights. He is also the author of four books. His latest, News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, is co-authored with Joseph Torres.

El Barrio community leader and founder, International Coquito Federation

Deb.Quinones_250x250Deborah Quiñones is a Public Health Representative III at the New York State Department of Health. She attended Herbert H Leman College, and Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School and is a fellow of the Advocacy and the National Hispana Leadership Institutes in Washington DC. Quiñones is a recipient of the Modebo J. Baker Community Service Award and the Mujeres Del Barrio award for community excellence; she is also the founder of the Muevete, the Puerto Rican Latino Youth Conference, the Circle of Sistahs, and the Harlem Healthy Women’s Initiative and founding board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and International Coquito Federation, whose mission is to promote the traditional Puerto Rican beverage though a series of taste-off events. Currently, she a member of the Stanley Isaacs, Casabe Houses and Young Bucks Sports board of directors and serves on the local Community Board and has held the positions of Vice Chair, and Chair of the Health, Youth and Carnivals Committees and a member of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women.


Creator, After Dark CATV PRO, La Fortaleza Project, and HERspanic

FelixL.CamposBorn and raised on “La Calle Cien” (East 100th Street) in New York’s El Barrio, Félix Leo Campos is a Nuyorrican working as an independent television & video producer. Campos is the creator AfterDark CATV PRO, a media arts organization that has produced programs promoting the ethnic minority communities of New York City and has worked for the New York City Public School system in its Bilingual Education, Special Education, and Special Bilingual Education, programs. In 2001 Campos was the recipient of Hispanic Magazine’s “Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Currently, Felix is a member of the Julia de Burgos Arts Alliance and La Fortaleza. Campos also served as Co-chair of the Bronx Borough President’s Bronx Fathers Taking Action.

Director of Public Programs, Education and Community Engagement, Friends of the Highline

G.Casals_250x250For the last decade, Gonzalo Casals, an aspiring neighborhoodist, has been exploring cultural production as a vehicle to foster empowerment, social capital, civic participation and community development. Casals joins the leadership of a generation of cultural workers that are working towards redefining the role of cultural organizations and their relationship with communities, neighborhoods and cities; through his work at El Museo del Barrio, Friends of The High Line and The Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY). Casal’s experience ranges from innovative programming design, authentic engagement strategies and progressive cultural policy.

Founder and Director of Folklore Urbano; and Special Events, Performing Arts, Jazz and Colombian Music, Boys and Girls Harbor

P.Mayor_250x250One of the contemporary voices of Colombia outside its borders, Pablo Mayor, has dedicated the last fifteen years to writing, producing, and promoting Colombian music in New York City. He graduated with a B.A., M.A. in Jazz Arranging from the University of North Texas and is formerly a professor of Jazz in the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Pablo Mayor and his band, Folklore Urbano Orchestra, have produced three CD’s and taken the band to both national and international venues. As an educator, Mayor holds the position of Performing Arts, Jazz and Colombian Music Coordinator at the Harbor Conservatory in Harlem, is co-founder, co-artistic director, and musical director of Folklore Urbano’s program Cumbia for Kids and Cumbia for All and is co-director of Turtle Bay Music School’s annual Colombian music and dance residency at multiple schools in NYC, where he also teaches composition in their Saturday Music Program.

Director of Arts & Education, The Point CDC

D.Peralta_250x250Danny R. Peralta was born in the Bronx and was raised in Inwood, Manhattan. He holds a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences from NYU’s School of Education. In 2000 Peralta began his work as a photographer and youth and community developer in Central Harlem, the Lower East Side and El Barrio NYC as coordinator of a number of programs like workforce investment, youth development, arts and technology, and garden building. In 2002, Peralta began attending photography workshops at ICP @ THE POINT, and in 2005 he was awarded with the first Jocelyn Benzakin Fellowship for documentary photography where he studied for two years. In 2007 his project “Ma” was awarded the BRIO (Bronx Recognizes its Own) Award. The following year he was awarded the Howard Chapnick Grant during the Eugene Smith Awards and returned to THE POINT CDC as Director of Arts and Education. Peralta has also exhibited his photo documentary work in No Longer Empty, the Bronx Latin American Arts Biennial and the Bronx Documentary Center.

Executive Director and Founder, El Barrio’s Operation Fightback

G.Rosado_250x250Gustavo Rosado was born in East Harlem in the mid 50’s and is a product of the area’s public school system. Rosado has worked in youth programs, senior citizens programs and housing development projects in East Harlem for over twenty years. Rosado, a founder of El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, significantly increased the organizations revenue in the 80’s for housing renovations for the East Harlem Community. In the early 90’s, as a sign of Mr. Rosado’s commitment to the community The New York Enterprise Foundation awarded El Barrio’s Operation Fightback a contract to renovate 3 vacant City owned buildings. Today, Mr. Rosado is the largest Hispanic housing developer in the East Harlem Community, and as an effort to create impact has established a community youth center and a social services component inside his housing developments geared to assist homeless families and individuals.

Independent Curator and Program Director, Laundromat Project

P.Larsen_250x250Petrushka Bazin Larsen is an independent curator and arts administrator committed to finding new ways of making art more accessible. As the Program Director of The Laundromat Project, she works with artists to present engaging art programs and experiences in Laundromats and other everyday spaces throughout New York. As an independent curator, Bazin Larsen has organized exhibitions at The Kitchen, NURTUREart, along New York City’s 14th Street for Art in Odd Places, among other venues.


Executive Director, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling

S.Delvalle_250x250Susan Delvalle joined Broadway Housing Communities in 2013 to lead the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling. In this role, she has overseen all aspects of the Museum’s development, including physical, administrative, and programmatic; established partnerships with a wide range of NYC organizations for Museum programming; and built a robust Board of Trustees and Advisory Board. Previously, Delvalle served as Director of External Affairs at El Museo del Barrio in New York where she secured the museum’s first major city, state and federal funding; and worked for American Composers Orchestra following a career in consumer banking and advertising. Susan Delvalle is an Adjunct Faculty at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and a Guest Lecturer in the Arts Management program at The New School University. She serves on the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ Advisory Board of the Multicultural Audience Development Initiative. Delvalle holds an undergraduate degree from Bentley University and a master’s degree from New School University’s Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy.

Executive Director and Founder, Puerto Rico and the American Dream. Film Production Professor,
The City College of New York. Director, MediaNoche Gallery

J.Escalona_250x250Judith Escalona, a segment producer for CUNY-TV, is also the Executive Director and Founder of Puerto Rico and the American Dream——the 16-year-old, award-winning website on the history, culture and politics of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora. Judith Escalona is the Director of MediaNoche Gallery located in East Harlem. Escalona is also a film curator and critic, some of her publications include: the Daily News, NY Latino, QBR/Quarterly Black Review, and Escalona received an Appreciation Award from the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College in 2002 and was designated a Distinguished Latina by El Diario/La Prensa in 2000. In 2010 New York State Senator Bill Perkins recognized her for her work in the arts, and in 2011 won First Prize in the Best Video category of the Ippies Awards. Escalona received three Communicator Awards 2012 for her work as a segment producer on Independent Sources/CUNY-TV. She currently teaches film production at The City College of New York.

Chief of Staff, Office of Communications and External Affairs, New York City Department of Education

M.Tavares_250x250Ms. Tavares supports the Senior Advisor for Communications and External Affairs and manages the communications and external affairs for New York City’s Department of Education. The office is responsible for communicating to parents, students, teachers, administrators, other educators, and stakeholders regarding decisions that affect the DOE’s 1,600+ schools and 1.1 million students. Prior to joining the NYC DOE, Monica Tavares served as Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), where she also served as Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Staff since 2010. Ms. Tavares previously served as Bronx Borough Director in the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, where she acted as principal liaison to the Latino community in New York City. Prior to joining the government sector, Ms. Tavares served as Government and Community Affairs Manager at El Museo del Barrio. Ms. Tavares was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York City in 1985. She resides in El Barrio, New York.

Co-Founder and Past President, National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.

M.Roman_250x250María Román-Dumén was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and moved to New York in 1959. In 1974, she joined the Board of Directors of the New York Puerto Rican Parade where she grew to love even more her Puerto Rican culture and traditions.  In 2001, she was elected to serve as Chairperson of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. After her volunteer work of close to four decades, she was named the recipient of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless efforts in public service and advocacy of the Puerto Rican culture. Román-Dumén has also been the recipient of the Outstanding Hispanic Women Achievers Award and the New York State Women of Excellence Award. She was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve as a member of the US Census Bureau Advisory Committee on Race and Ethnic Populations; and was named member of the New York/Puerto Rico Economic Development Advisory Board, Román-Dumén also serves as a committee member of the New York Society of Association Executives, and currently serves on the Executive Board of the 100 Hispanic Women, Inc. and the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. (NACOPRW) New York Chapter. In January 2010, Román-Dumén retired as a government employee of the State of New York; but continues her community and public service by participating in efforts to promote and preserve her Puerto Rican heritage.


As part of a new Three Kings Day Tradition, we will be honoring, posthumously, those who have made significant contributions to El Barrio and Latino communities everywhere through their hard work and dedication, thereby opening the doors to the next generation of Latinos. Inspiring, courageous, and relentless, these individuals fearlessly shared their stories and vision. El Museo del Barrio honors their legacy.

(September 2, 1934 – May 4, 2014)
Community Activist, Poet, Writer,
and Translator.
Director, El Museo del Barrio (1977 to 1986)

(August 21, 1929 – December 3, 2014)
First Puerto Rican to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and first Puerto Rican Mayoral candidate for the City of New York.

(December 21 1930 – February 16 2014)
Photojournalist, Activist, Educator,
and Community Organizer
As a renowned photographer, he captured images of everyday life in El Barrio and photographed some of the earliest images of El Museo del Barrio’s Three Kings Day Parade.

(1943 – December 2014)
Author, Professor, Scholar
Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and Director of Latino Studies at New York University. He wrote numerous books and publications on Puerto Rican, Latino, and Afro-Latino culture and communities in the United States.

(1932 – October 2014)

Fashion Designer
World renowned, award winning, Dominican fashion designer and philanthropist, supporter of New York City arts and culture, and supporter of El Museo del Barrio.