Yes, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, and nope, you don’t need a passport to go there.
Those are answers to some of the reoccurring questions Jessica Gonzalez, of the nonprofit organizations Movimiento Borikua, and Arriba
Last September’s horrific Hurricane Maria put a spotlight on the island, along with a realization of how much confusion still exists about the United States’ relationship with its island territory.
Gonzalez, who migrated to New Jersey from the island as a child, wants to be a part of changing that by broadening knowledge about her birthplace and sharing the cultural aspects that make it unique. On September 23 at downtown’s Crescent Ballroom, she is hosting a family-friendly, Puerto Rican-style carnival, called ¡Puerto Rico Presente! The night is co-hosted by another Phoenix-area charitable group, Mujeres Del Sol.
Another goal of the event – and the prime mission of Movimiento Borikua – is to mobilize the Puerto Rican diaspora in Maricopa County.
For ¡Puerto Rico Presente!, Gonzalez chose Crescent Ballroom because she thought it would be the best spot to recreate
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Tables will be set up around the venue where visitors can pop in on a game of dominos, a favorite Puerto Rican pastime. A photo booth created by the ASU Latino Architecture Student Organization features a backdrop you can take selfies at for a take-home memento.
In addition to some area performers, a couple of acts are coming in from out of town to be a part of the musical backdrop.
Sandra Antongiorgi is one of them. The Chicago-based Puerto Rican singer-songwriter who has been hitting the guitar strings since age five is flying in for the night, armed with songs that fuse Latin sounds with rock and neo-soul. Also an accomplished muralist, her work permeates Chicago’s urban landscape.
If you’re in need of beats,
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In another act of building community, Gonzalez asked Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul – best known as the acclaimed artistic team the Fortoul Brothers – to create the promotional materials for the one-night fest. “We worked with Jessica before,” Gabriel says, “and
People coming together to create and strengthen connections is a big part of what Gonzalez hopes will happen on this lively evening. "It’s geared toward getting people to engage with Puerto Rican culture and talent, but we want to show them ways to get involved, too,” Gonzalez tells us. “There will be a voter registration table, as well as a video presentation that offers statistics and a look at the reality of the island.”
¡Puerto Rico Presente! 5 p.m. Sunday, September 23, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue; 602-715-2222; crescentphx.com. Admission is $10 for adults and free for 18 and under.