|Puerto Rican Day Parade 2015 [New York Daily News]|
Today was the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, a heavily attended event by both Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans from all over! This day, as many Puerto Ricans know, is a great time to decorate your house, car, and yourself with Puerto Rican flags and other paraphernalia to represent 'la isla del encanto'. One of my favorite sayings that you can hear on this day is: "¡Yo Soy Boricua, Pa'que Tú Lo Sepas!", which roughly translates to, I'm Boricua (Puerto Rican), just so you know!".
What I found interesting was that this year the parade was dedicated not to a town but to Pedro Albizu Campos, a man who isn't really known to the everyday Puerto Rican but in historical and political circles is known fairly well. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Albizu Campos' death which was earlier this year on the 21st of April. Pedro Albizu Campos is known for his fight for independence for the island of Puerto Rico as the president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. There is a lot of history that goes with learning about Puerto Rico's past, especially during the times of rallying for independence.
One of the most shocking things that I learned was about Law 53 of 1948, which was better known as the Gag Law or Ley de la Mordaza. This law was established with the purpose of suppressing any independence movement in Puerto Rico. Therefore, "The act made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic tune, to speak or write of independence, or meet with anyone, or hold any assembly, in favor of Puerto Rican independence" [Wikipedia].
Kind of makes you wonder if this is why Puerto Ricans are so fiercely proud of their flag, culture, and ways, passed down for grandparents and great-grandparents who weren't allowed to proudly display a flag, or even sing a tune that could remind someone of independence. This law is one of the many things that happened on the island that a good number of Puerto Ricans do not know about. I'm not sure if it is taught on the island but I know that many mainland Puerto Ricans have never heard of the law or even about Pedro Albizu Campos.
The Puerto Rican Day Parade is a great time to learn more about the island, get in touch with your roots, dance some Salsa, and eat some good pernil, but also a great time to learn some more history of the island as well! Do not forget those who came before you and their struggles to get us to where we are!