José E. López Solidarity message to the Millon Man March
Compañeras y compañeros, Brothers and Sisters:
I greet you in the name of the Puerto Rican communities of Chicago. I greet you in the name of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos – the standard-bearers, the embodiment, the symbols of the Puerto Rican people, yearning for freedom, justice and peace.
I greet you in the name of the Puerto Rican political prisoners in U.S. prisons charged with seditious conspiracy for their actions on behalf of Puerto Rico’s right to be a free and independent nation.
I salute Minister Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam, and all who have labored to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Million Man March with their Day of Atonement.
A delegation from the Puerto Rican community has come today to demonstrate our solidarity with you on this momentous occasion. Our presence here tonight, we hope, will be the beginnings of a dialogue among our communities that will become an everlasting bridge for our peoples.
We must realize we have a common history, and therefore a common destiny. The entire history of the past 500 years or so has been a process of taking us out of history – to the point where we are constantly told we have no history. We have been lied to, we have been objectified – transformed from subjects to objects. But somehow, dangerous memories lurk in our minds, memories of those who kept alive the flames of resistance and whose example inspires us to struggle. One of the most interesting examples of the importance of this memory is found in the traditions of the Puerto Rican santero (woodcarver) depictions of the three wise men – the three kings, unlike any other people. In our tradition, the three are seen riding on horses, not on camels, but on a particular breed of horses – the Paso Fino – a descendant of the Arabian horses brought to Puerto Rico. But, most importantly Puerto Rican woodcarvers always place Melchor in the middle, riding a white horse. Melchor in our tradition is the Black King. Why is Melchor in the middle? Any time three people travel together it is the one in the middle that leads. Thus, it was the mulatto hands of the woodcarver in search of his African roots, who place Melchor – the only Black King that he knew – in the middle. It was this creative being’s search for his Black identity in the dangerous memories of his African heritage that allowed him to create this cultural icon – it was a similar search for his African roots – his Blackness – which drove the Puerto Rican Arturo Alfonso Schomburg to create the greatest collection of Africana – the Schomburg Collection in New York City – to help usher in the Harlem Renaissance.
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