Puerto Rican Pioneer Antonio “Tony” Irizarry Feted!



On Sunday, September 15, close to 200 community leaders, elected officials and family members participated in a well-deserved tribute to Antonio “Tony” Irizarry. The Puerto Rican Cultural Center was proud to participate in the tribute, which was organized by Milly Santiago and took place at My Fair Lady Banquets.

Tony was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico and came to the US in 1949, and to Chicago in 1951. He earned degrees soon after from several institutions of higher learning. Tony was a pioneer who envisioned uniting Puerto Rico community leaders, some of whom were Graciano López, Mirta Ramírez, Trina Davila, Elias Diaz y Perez, and Haydee Garcia to name a few. Thanks at least partly to Irizarry’s intervention, the first Puerto Rican Parade Committee was formed and eventually led to the first official Puerto Rican parade in downtown Chicago in 1966.

He has played a leading role in the promotion of Puerto Rican culture, as well as an advocate for Puerto Rican rights. He has been instrumental in creating many Puerto Rican institutions, including “Nuestro Directorio, Fiestas Poblanas Puertorriqueñas, and Nuestro Awards ceremony. He was recently selected as one of the 100 Puerto Rican Pioneers whose life will be archived by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.

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