Politics and the Puerto Ricans:
Getting Out the Vote in Spanish Harlem
“Y los ultimos seran los primeros,….” (“and the last shall ve first”)-From a campaign leaflet of Jose Lumen Roman, candidate for the New York City Council.
A HALF-DOZEN men wearing wide, straw-thatched sombreros walked through the rain of an autumn Thursday night on East 104th Street and turned inside the Union Settlement House. They entered the auditorium, paused for a moment, and looked from left to right. On the left-hand side ten people, all but two of them white, were scattered through the rows of folding chairs. Most of them sat alone. On the right-hand side about fifty people, several of them wearing the wide sombreros, were sitting together- some chattering among themselves in Spanish, others waiting with folded hands and a silent, skeptical detachment. The half-dozen men who had just come in walked quickly to the right and looked for seats. They did not take off their sombreros, which bore inscriptions painted in red across the crown-Vota Jose Lumen Roman. Their eyes were fixed on the men who moved against the brown velvet backdrop curtain on the stage. These were the sponsors and principal speakers of the evening’s program, which for the first time in anyone’s memory brought together the candidates for City Council from East Harlem to discuss the issues of the coming campaign.
About the Author