ANNA "CUQUI" RIVERA
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER AND CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE
Anna "Cuqui" Rivera was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1959. Ms. Rivera works as a community activist. Her activism began in the late 1980s when she started volunteering for a youth program organized at the Puerto Rican Action Board [PRAB]; after spending two years as a full–time unpaid volunteer, Ms. Rivera was hired by the Puerto Rican Action Board to help run the newly formed Hispanic Youth in Progress program. She also worked in other capacities for PRAB, notably with their HIV/AIDS prevention groups, for fifteen years. In 1999, Ms. Rivera started working for the newly formed Hispanic Directors' Association of New Jersey, Inc.[HDANJ] as the Outreach Assistant for the Pro–Kids Campaign. The campaign was a strategic project to enroll 10,000 three and four year old children into preschools, which was successful in reaching their goal. Through her work with HDANJ, Ms. Rivera also got deeply involved in prisoners' rights and as a result helped organize statewide round–tables to identify and address issues impacting the Latino community. Her community and civil rights activism has focused on improving the lives of children and addressing discrimination within her community. Ms. Rivera is also an avowed music lover who enjoys working as a D.J., performing under the name DJ Lady C.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear Anna Rivera discuss the importance of cultural festivals as a means to promote diversity:
Text of Audio Quote:
[Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see p. 24–25 of the complete interview transcript.]
"They're vital! They are a celebration of our culture; they are not only a celebration but [also] a description of our culture, a sharing of our culture, our history, our food, our values, and they are a beautiful thing, and whether they're Latino, or Black, or Irish, or whatever... It is something that, unless you live next door to an Irishman, or Puerto Rican person, you don't really know what that is. If you live next to a Mexican person, unless you can speak to this person, you don't know anything about them. And... that is the primary root of hate. Hate comes from fear. Fear comes from not knowing. [Cultural festivals are] the most fun way to celebrate and educate our neighbors about our cultures and learn about their cultures. It would be a beautiful thing to exchange or share culture [and] multicultural festivals, but you kind of lose something there too, but it depends on how you develop the event itself... it depends on the management in the organization.... There's ways to do multicultural things and there's ways to also do specific [events], even a Latino festival itself. It's a whole lot of diversity inside a Latino festival if you break it down from our countries of South America, Central [America] and [the] Caribbean... alone, or Spain. That in itself is a multicultural event. "
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