Latin Roots: East Harlem

Latin Roots: East Harlem

Celebrating the Living History of East Harlem

A public art and education program of Community Works


Marcos Dimas
Artist & Artistic Director of Taller Boricua

Dr. Georgina Falu
Scholar, Educator, and Entrepreneur

Aurora Flores
Journalist, Music Historian & Musician

Juan Gutierrez
Musician and Community Leader

Iris Morales
Community Activist, Educator & Film Producer

Piri Thomas
Poet, Novelist, Activist, Educator

Carmen Vasquez
Deputy Executive Director of Community Affairs, Hope Community, Inc.

Latin Roots: East Harlem: Celebrating the Living History of East Harlem is a model intergenerational public art and education program that venerates East Harlem’s distinct cultural and historical importance. This living history honors local heroes who have helped make East Harlem the community it is today.

This exhibit pays homage to East Harlem by telling its story through the lens of New York City public school students, from the neighborhood and beyond, who researched, interviewed and documented the honorees. Award-winning documentary photographer Ruth Morgan has created arresting portraits of the honorees, which are captured in literally larger-than-life panels standing eight feet tall by four feet wide. Adjoining panels present a biographical profile of the honorees and their unique reflections on the meaning of East Harlem in their lives.

Latin Roots: East Harlem also includes a comprehensive timeline that chronicles the multicultural evolution of East Harlem for the past 120 years. Beginning in the 1880s, this 18-foot timeline comprises some 75 entries and incorporates historic archival images, many from the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños of Hunter College and the Museum of the City of New York, that depict the rich history, customs and traditions of the pioneers who have migrated to East Harlem—the Irish, Germans, Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans, African-Americans, West Indians, Mexicans and Cubans. Further panels portray detailed images of East Harlem surroundings along with vital demographic and geographic information. In addition, youth panels present original student writing, poetry and reflections on the extraordinary honorees they interviewed and the vibrant community they call home, El Barrio.

Latin Roots: East Harlem is part of Community Works’ larger Latin Roots series. Through exhibitions, music, dance, and spoken word, Latin Roots celebrates New York City neighborhoods rich in Latino culture and the individuals who give these neighborhoods life.

Community Works is a leading arts and education organization founded in New York City in 1990, which builds community and celebrates diversity in cities across the U.S. through art, education, shared history, culture and dialogue. Community Works serves more than 350,000 youth and community members through performances, workshops, exhibits, mentoring and other model programs.

Latin Roots:East Harlem Honoree Biographies