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Gilberto Gerena Valentín

Gilberto Gerena Valentín (1918–present), born in Lares, Puerto Rico, migrated to New York in 1937. He is a key figure in the development of the Puerto Rican community in the United States, especially from the forties through the seventies. Gerena Valentín was a union organizer, community leader, political activist and general in the war for the civil-rights recognition of his community. Gerena Valentín played an active part in the founding and development of all the major Puerto Rican organizations in the postwar period, including the Congreso de Pueblos, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the National Association for Puerto Rican Civil Rights, the Puerto Rican Folklore Festival  and the Puerto Rican Community Development Project. During this period he was also a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission and a New York City councilman. Gerena Valentín was also a pioneer in the creation of coalitions with the principal African American civil rights organizations, playing a central role in the mobilization of Puerto Ricans for the famed marches on Washington in 1963 and 1968 and in the New York City school boycott of 1964, the largest in the nation’s history. In 1985 he returned to Puerto Rico and currently lives in Lares.