José Rafael Méndez Interview

Series, Mendez_JoseRafael_Int
Part of: CENTRO: 100 Puerto Ricans Oral History Project, 2013- > José Rafael Méndez Interview

A self-defined community historian, José Rafael Méndez discusses his major passion, which is the collection and protection of items that narrate the Puerto Rican and Latino history in the United States. Born and raised in Tarrytown, NY, Méndez grew-up in a predominantly Puerto Rican/Hispanic neighborhood surrounded by history, yet he felt the absence of his own history. He addressed this absence by becoming a researcher and collector of items that represented the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. He talks about his special interest in the Porto Rico Steamship Line, which was the means of transportation of the Puerto Rican diaspora prior to the 1950s. Méndez emphasizes that through the steamship collection he has two main objectives: first, to create connections within the Puerto Rican diaspora by researching the identity of the passengers, their migration patterns and the places where they settled, and, second, to recognize the forgotten by bringing out the personal stories of the steamships' passengers. Méndez also refers to his Afro-Caribbean music collections, his experiences in the Navy, and how he shares his findings with the community. 

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