Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito issued the following statement in response to the death of renowned Puerto Rican scholar Ricardo Alegría:
I am very saddened by the death of the extraordinary Puerto Rican scholar Ricardo Alegría. No single individual has done more to preserve Puerto Rican history, heritage and culture than Mr. Alegría. During his long and fruitful life, Mr. Alegría helped so many of us proud Puerto Ricans – whether living on the island or stateside – to understand and appreciate more deeply our roots, and to preserve the history of the island within our collective identity as a people.
As founder of the Institute for Puerto Rican Culture and the Center for Advanced Studies on Puerto Rico, Mr. Alegría dedicated his entire life to studying the origins and evolution of modern Puerto Rican culture, focusing in particular on the strong influence of the island’s Taino heritage. He also worked tirelessly to preserve the archaeological beauty and history of Old San Juan and other parts of Puerto Rico, which continue to serve as a visual reminder of our history.
Mr. Alegría’s work has been of importance not only to those Puerto Ricans living on the island but also to the millions of us who are part of the diaspora and have to make even greater efforts to preserve our cultural heritage. As part of ASPIRA of NY I had the great honor of leading a group of young Puerto Ricans born and raised in New York on a trip to the island to help them learn about their culture and their history. Mr. Alegría humbly welcomed us into the Institute and personally led a talk with the youth, which was as impactful for me as it was for them. The ability to witness the generosity of his spirit in taking the time to speak with these teenagers was a truly unforgettable experience and one that speaks to his character as a person.
Mr. Alegría, “protector y promotor de nuestro patrimonio”, has left for us Puerto Ricans such incredible contributions, thereby ensuring that his memory lives on for generations to come. I send my condolences to his family and to all Puerto Rican people as we mourn this terrible loss.