I recognize the fact that not many have gotten the opportunity to witness and experience some of the the things I have.
I have been taught values and work ethic by my grandmother, Gloria del Rio, a community activist in Brownsville Brooklyn. I have heard stories about our Taino forefathers and know today that Tainos are not extinct because of Bobby Gonzalez. I have receieved counsel and mentorship from Young Lords Richie Perez (RIP), Felipe Luciano and Olgui Toro. I have had a chance to share my goals in life with Black Panthers Denise Oliver, and Gina Amaro. I have had a chance to meet my favorite visual artists Seen, Bua, Maria Sanchez, Olga Ayala, Obed Gomez, Mia Roman, Derek Santiago and De La Vega. I have shared a stage with poets I love like Reverendo Pedro Pietri, Papoleto, La Bruja and so many more. I have had a chance to hear some of my favorite musicians play live like Yomo Toro as well as Tato Torres and Yerba Buena. I have been apart of great movements like Alianza Latina, Por Tu Familia, Muevete and Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Inc. I have had the opportunity of creating something powerful in Brooklyn with Paposwiggity, my Capicu Family under the counsel of great men like George Acevedo, Keith Roach and Jaime El Maestro Emeric.
Last but not least… I have even had the opportunity to read a book that planted a seed and meet the author that continues to sow my soul, Don Piri Thomas. My dream come true was the ability to speak to him many times since we met in 1996 and when Capicu was able (with the help of a friend named Esteban Jimenez) share quality time to pay tribute to his life’s work.
But the most beautiful opportunity I have ever had, was the opportunity to tell each of them in life what they mean to me…and how they continue to drive me every single day. I will never forget the day that I read True Boricua to Piri over the phone…and all he said was Vayyyyya que chevere. It is still my favorite piece and the one that he inspired.
As I reflect on the loss of my hero Piri Thomas… I urge each one of you… honor your elders, learn from your elders and most importantly do not forget to let them know that their life’s work inspires you.
As I am,
The Urban Jibaro