La Repuesta: In His Own Words: In His Own Words: Oscar Discusses Poverty and Education

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La Respuesta is proud to announce a new page titled “Oscar’s Corner“, where we will provide news on the campaign to free political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. We are also excited to share with you our direct correspondence with Oscar from inside prison, facilitated by Dorian Ortega and the National Boricua Human Rights Network. Every month Dorian asks Oscar a question relevant to our community and he responds with an . You can participate too! If you have a question for Oscar, send them to dorian@larespuestamedia.com. Here is our second letter from Oscar, covering the topics of poverty and education:

Dorian Ortega: Tell us about your experiences combating poverty and educational inequity in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community in the 1960s and 1970s? Is there anything you would have done differently? What is your advice to young Boricuas working to improve access to formal education in their communities?

Oscar López Rivera: The two issues need to be put in historical perspective in order for me to explain what i was trying to do while organizing in the community and addressing issues like poverty and educational inequality.

As soon as the Puerto Rican community started to consolidate itself in the West Town community the system of public education began to eliminate some of the institutions that had existed in the area for years.  There was a Teachers College that was eliminated. There were public libraries that were eliminated. And many of the best teachers transferred to other communities. Most of the schools became overcrowded as the Puerto Rican population grew, and most of the teachers didn’t know how to teach students who only spoke Spanish. And if a principal was asked how he or she was addressing these problems there was no honest answer forthcoming, because principals didn’t know how to deal with them. Continue reading.