‘Headlines’ exhibit represents Hispanic New Yorkers’ history

Courtesy of El Diario La Prensa
Courtesy of El Diario La Prensa

El Diario/La Prensa commemorated its centennial anniversary on Sept. 25, establishing itself as the country’s longest-running Spanish newspaper. El Diaro lined the halls of NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center with placards that compiled headlines, photographs and stories highlighting significant Hispanic and New York cultural events of the past three decades.

Jo Labanyi, director of the KJCC, introduced the exhibition “In the Headlines: Hispanic New Yorkers, 1980-2000.”

“For many of you, I’m sure it will be a great nostalgia trip,” Labanyi said. “For those of you who are younger, it will be a voyage of discovery.”

The available archive was limited due to a flood in 1992 on Varick Street that destroyed the documents dated from 1913 to 1978.  All that remained on paper were newspapers from 1978 to 2002, and the paper has been digital since then.

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One of the defining aspects of this timeframe was the “Hispanic Decade” of the 1980s, which led to the stigma that Hispanics were infiltrating American society and culture as they immigrated.

“We chose 1980 [to focus on] because it is the beginning of the so-called decade of the Hispanic, which is a period in which everyone started talking about the overwhelming population growth of Hispanics,” said Javier Gómez, centennial project manager for El Diario.

The voice of the Hispanic community rose as it lived through events such as the AIDS epidemic and the attack on 9/11.

“We didn’t just come here to change the city, which we did,” said Rossana Rosaldo, El Diario’s publisher and CEO. “We didn’t just come here to add flavor, which we did, to make a lot of noise, which we have. But we also built this city, and we evolved with it.”

Former metro editor for El Diario, Lourdes Centeno, expressed pride in the exhibit. She worked on several of the on-display stories from the ’90s.

“[The exhibit] also reinforces the importance of this newspaper, and the importance of this media outlet for the Latino community, and how much of a voice it’s been for the last hundred years,” Centeno said.

The exhibition is on display at 53 Washington Square South through Dec. 18. 


A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept 30 print edition. Blair Cannon is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]

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