Today is International Literacy Day (ILD)! This special day started in 1967 to remind the public around the world about the importance of literacy and education as a human right. Promoting literacy means helping adults and young people unlock opportunities to a better future. ILD reminds us about the work we need to do for a more sustainable1 and equitable2 society.
International Literacy Day (ILD) is an opportunity to honor those are dedicated to making literacy a reality for the many.
From actors like Rami Malek and Tony Shalhoub, musicians such as French Montana and Shakira, to politicians such as George Kaseem and James Abourezk, Arabic Americans have contributed to the fabric (1) of American history and culture.
Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017, with just a handful (2) of states participating.
In 2022, Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and 45 state governors issued proclamations commemorating the initiative.
Check out the video below to learn more about Arab American Heritage Month, why it’s so important, and how we can all be better Americans by learning about each other’s heritage!
1. The fabric of (something) – the basic structure of (something)
Originally, St. Patrick’s Day began in Ireland as a Catholic holiday, but over the years it has grown into a festival of Irish culture. A week-long celebration of Irish music, theater, and visual arts takes place in many regions of Ireland. Family get-togethers are also important, as people sit down for a special meal. The feast of corned beef and cabbage, though, is an American tradition; in Ireland one is more likely to find bacon or a savory roast chicken on the table.
Although the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become a part of celebrations in Ireland these days, it’s the result of an American influence, where the tradition was created by homesick Irish immigrants. More recently, St. Patrick’s Day has become a highly marketable and promoted event in Ireland, resulting in an attractive draw for tourists visiting the country.
The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates back to March 17, 1762, when it was first organized by a group of homesick Irish immigrants and Irish military in the American colonies of NYC. Participants enjoyed the freedom to speak Irish, wear the color green- which was banned in Ireland at the time, sing native songs, and play the bagpipe.
These things gave powerful meaning to those people who fled their homeland.
Join in the fun! Come to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade!
The NYC Parade is held on March 17th and begins precisely at 11:00 AM. The Parade marches up Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th.
‘Loisaida’ is the NYC neighborhood at the root of powerful movements.
While walking through the Lower East Side, did you ever notice the other name for Avenue C?
If you’re Puerto Rican or have lived in NYC for long enough to see the neighborhood change, you may have a soft spot for the word, “ Loisaida”.
Say it slowly. What downtown New York City neighborhood does it sound like?
Before The Lower East Side (LES) was a shopping and restaurant area mostly for university students, the Manhattan neighborhood was a working-class neighborhood for immigrants from across the world. In the mid-1900s, the Latinos who lived there called it “Loisaida”. Puerto Ricans and other working-class people made Loisaida a place for activism in New York City from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Activist groups tried to improve the lives of residents in the neighborhood by leading protests and mass building squats. Locals also created spaces for the community, like gardens and restaurants. These actions along with art that brought Latinos together helped form national cultural pride. This created the The “Nuyorican” identity (preferred by some Puerto Ricans from New York),
Have you heard of the Nuyorican Poets Café, opened in 1973? Many Latino artists, like poet, Aja Monet and actress, Rosario Dawson performed here!
Today LES has the second-highest income inequality gap in Manhattan. As the neighborhood becomes unaffordable, Latino families who once lived well there are being pushed out.
Thankfully, some cultural hubs, like Loisaida Center and Tenement Museum, still exist and remind us of the Latino influence that helped strengthen Latino movements for justice, such as the creation of the modern Puerto Rican Flag!
Check out next week’s blog to learn more about the influence of the Lower East Side on the history of Puerto Rico!
Soft spot-noun- to like something or someone a lot. Income inequality gap- noun– income = money, inequality= unequal, gap= space Unaffordable- adjective– expensive, not easy to buy Hub-noun – a place that is a center of a particular activity Activism – Noun– social or political change To squat – Verb – living in a building without the legal right to do so
The World’s Most Famous Arena – Madison Square Garden (MSG)
Did you know that the famous arena, MSG, hasn’t always been in its current location on 34th street?
Did you know that it could move again?
Before the current day Madison Square Garden, which was completed in 1968, there were actually three other Madison Square Gardens.
The construction of the original Madison Square Garden was completed, and MSG I was open for business in Manhattan in 1871.However, it wasn’t open for long before a new Madison Square Garden was built.
In 1890 the second Madison Square Garden opened on the same site as the original. Once again, this Madison Square Garden was not open for long before yet another Garden was built, now the third different Madison Square Garden within 60 years.
The third Madison Square Garden, completed in 1925, took under a year to build.
Madison Square Garden III was the first Madison Square Garden that was not located near Madison Square Park, It was located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan. People from all over came to see Madison Square Garden for sports and entertainment, like the prior ones, but this Garden became extremely popular very quickly.
Lastly, the current day Madison Square Garden opened in 1968. All of the Madison Square Gardens had a big impact on the culture of New York City, even though they were not all on the same site. The MSG that we know today has a lease that expires this year- in 2023! There have been talks about whether it will move, but so far, no decision has been made. Who knows? Maybe the next MSG will be in the Lower East Side!
Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
Before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. During 1887, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
McGuire v. Maguire: Who Founded Labor Day?
Who first proposed the holiday for workers? It’s not entirely clear, but two workers can make a solid claim to the Founder of Labor Day title.
Some records show that in 1882, Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, suggested setting aside a day for a “general holiday for the laboring classes” to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that machinist Matthew Maguire, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday.
Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
According to the New Jersey Historical Society, after President Cleveland signed the law creating a national Labor Day, the Paterson Morning Call published an opinion piece stating that “the souvenir pen should go to Alderman Matthew Maguire of this city, who is the undisputed author of Labor Day as a holiday.” Both Maguire and McGuire attended the country’s first Labor Day parade in New York City that year.
The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September of each year a national holiday.
A Nationwide Holiday
Many Americans celebrate Labor Day with parades, picnics and parties – festivities very similar to those outlined by the first proposal for a holiday, which suggested that the day should be observed with – a street parade to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day.
Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known and the labor movement has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.