Founded in 1973, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center Juan Antonio Corretjer is a non-profit, community-based umbrella institution, which seeks to serve the social/cultural needs of Chicago’s Puerto Rican/Latino community. It is built on the following principles: a philosophy of self-determination, a methodology of self-actualization and critical thought, and an ethics of self-reliance best expressed in the motto, “To live and help to live.”
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) is named after Juan Antonio Corretjer, the celebrated Puerto Rican national poet and political leader. It serves as a place where people come together to address the critical problems confronting the community and to recover their history, to share in the music, poetry and drama of Puerto Ricans both at home and in the diaspora.
All of the PRCC’s programs encourage participants to think critically about their reality and to promote an ethics of self-reliance based on social responsibility. They deal with health, social, and cultural issues that affect Puerto Rican/Latino and poor communities, such as AIDS, education, literacy, housing, homophobia, drug addiction, gang violence, teen pregnancy, police brutality, racism, economic and community development and human rights violations.
The PRCC promotes the self-actualization and self-determination of the Puerto Rican/Latino community through the study and creation of Puerto Rican culture, and through social activism. These efforts are carried out through programs such as public murals projects, the Casita Project, the People’s Parade, Fiesta Boricua and the Community as Intellectual Space Conference. The PRCC has also been involved in such human rights campaigns as the defense of political prisoners, the struggle for peace in Vieques, the defense of undocumented immigrants and against the criminalization of youth.
An article on the Cultural Center published by the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC) states: “There are, of course, continuing problems of obtaining the modest funds required to support the Center and its programs, and in identifying committed staff who are willing to get paid far less than those working in traditional institutions. However, they receive additional rewards; the freedom to plant the seeds that grow into new kinds of institutions which in turn, produce young adults who have a vision of what is possible for themselves and for the Puerto Rican community.”