Executive Producer of
Images/Imágenes & Hispanic Youth Showcase, New Jersey Network (NJN)
William Sánchez was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico. His parents moved their family to Newark, New Jersey in the 1950s, where his father became one of the district leaders in the Puerto Rican neighborhood that was demolished to make room for the building of the Rutgers–Newark campus. Mr. Sánchez’s family was relocated to the Columbus Homes projects, where he witnessed the riots of 1967 and 1974. He attended Rutgers University and was an active participant in various Latino student organizations. An early love of performance and drama, combined with his desire to be a positive force in his community, led Mr. Sánchez into theater and television. He began working at NJN (New Jersey Network) in 1979, where his goal was to provide a positive image of Puerto Ricans and other Latino communities that was lacking in the media. Mr. Sánchez served as the executive producer/director of Images / Imágenes, a cultural and public affairs show, until the program finished its run in 2011. His work on Images / Imágenes and the Hispanic Youth Showcase, a talent competition for New Jersey’s Latino youth, has garnered Mr. Sánchez multiple Emmy awards. He also received an Emmy for his work on Sembrando El Futuro, a television special focused on parenting skills for the Latino community.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear William Sánchez discuss witnessing the start of the 1974 Puerto Rican Riots in Newark, New Jersey:
“So, realizing that this might be 1967 [1967 Newark Riots, July 12 – 17, 1967] all over again, [my] family decided we need to go home. So my mother grabbed us, grabbed the little ones, carried them and ran out. My aunts, everybody, all of my friends who were my age at that time, [the] teenagers, the young people decided that they couldn’t run anymore. They were not going to run anymore. [We decided] that something needed to be done. So from Branch Brook Park began the march towards City Hall. And at that time there were several leaders in the Latino community, who decided that they were going to speak to… the Mayor at that time… Kenneth Gibson. And then there were other [Latino] groups who said, “Why are we talking? We need to demonstrate to them that they–this cannot be done. You can’t bring horses into a crowd of people and then expect that nothing will happen.” So then, it became a yelling and screaming match, and then bottles started flying, and [it] all broke loose in downtown Newark… Policemen came in [on] their horses and again they started going right at the people and basically, you know, they just attacked whoever came near their horses. Obviously, the police were doing things, but they were scared. The people who were in their way were also scared. So there’s all these frightening [events]–what you would see on a television program or in a movie was actually happening there live, people yelling and screaming… everything coming down at one time. And again the people inside [City Hall] were not able to control the people outside, because the commotion was huge and then it began. Once again it looked like 1967.”
Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see pp. 4-5 of Part 2 of the complete interview transcript.
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