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Commemorative banner commemorating the abolition of slavery

By Pearl of Leon  ©2023 Perla de Leon, concept, design, photography and production

12 feet



Los fotógrafos de la pancarta:

Nestor Murray Irizarry
Laura Magruder 

Daniel Lind-Ramos
Raquel Perez-Puig 

Pedro Rosa-Nales
Enrique Jimenez 

Nelson Rivera-Rodriguez 

Maria Banchs-Cabrera 

David Zayas



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Perla de León was born in New York City. He received an MFA in photography from Brooklyn College and attended Columbia University's Graduate Program in Film Directing. Perla taught photography and video production to high school and college students, curated Latin American photography exhibits, produced training videos for the Board of Education, and freelanced in a variety of crew positions in television and film production.

        Perla's photographs are found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC and El Museo del Barrio and Gracie Mansion in New York. Her work has been exhibited in museums in Mexico City, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Houston, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and New York, and has been published in Germany and Brazil. You can contact her here:
Leon Pearl <>




Juan Garrido, son of an African king, was the first free African to set foot on the island; He was a conquistador who was part of Juan Ponce de León's entourage. Twenty-five thousand native Tainos died from brutal treatment due to European slavery, death, and suicide. Most of the surviving natives took refuge in the mountainous regions of Puerto Rico.


The Spanish Crown authorizes the importation of 12 slaves per subject, the beginning of the journey of our African ancestors from West Africa to Puerto Rico. he Triangular Slave Trade sent 12 million Africans to the Caribbean, South and North America. The United States received only 5% of enslaved Africans. In 1523, the first sugarcane processing plant is built in Puerto Rico, followed by dozens of 'haciendas', including the American plantations that the United States instituted when it invaded the archipelago in 1898.


As sugar plantations increase, significantly, theft and purchase by Africans meant that our ancestors were shipped as cargo, packed like sardines, branded across the forehead, and scattered throughout Loiza, Ponce, Mayagüez, Guayama, and other coastal communities. The trafficking of human souls generated the immediate loss of extended family, name, language, religion, cultural rituals, ancestral ties and all human dignity.


Fearing Haiti's successful independence along with freedom fighters in nearby colonies, the Spanish Crown offers freedom to enslaved blacks from the Caribbean who swear allegiance to the Spanish monarchy and the Catholic Church. Soon after, white Europeans caught up in the Great Famine and widespread cholera at the time, are offered free land grants in exchange for loyalty to the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church. Land grants to white foreigners from France, Italy, Ireland, Germany, and many other European groups produced generations of privileged white citizens in Puerto Rico.


The owners of the sugar plantations enact the 1849 Day Laborers Regulations, forcing criollos to work alongside 50,000 enslaved blacks on the sprawling plantations. Creoles, 16 years of age and older, who did not own land, were required to carry notebooks that identified their name, physical description, character, moral conduct, and place of work. Landlords recorded their daily hours and conduct, a control journal that would not be banned until slavery was ended by abolitionists.


Puerto Rico recognizes the abolition of slavery but does not emancipate the enslaved black population that is forced to work another three years and must buy their freedom at the price set by the master. As our African ancestors struggle to start a free life, the Spanish Crown compensates slave owners 35 million pesetas per slave (or $250,573 in modern money) ensuring the establishment of privileges for generations of white Puerto Ricans.

     The beaches, fields and roads of much of this island are covered with the sweat and blood of our African ancestors, whose immeasurable contributions to island culture include the introduction to the Americas of many cereals, rice, millet, black-eyed beans, fruits, nuts. , coffees and vegetables and of course a rich culture of music, dance, spirit and joy. On this sacred date, we honor the unimaginable sacrifices and contributions of the ancestors who produced the wealth that created the modern economies of Europe, Latin America, the United States, and the Caribbean.



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Puerto Rican composer, improvisational soloist, popular musician, and educator. His music has been performed on three continents by prestigious ensembles and soloists, including the Sichuan Philharmonic, the Warsaw Symphony, the American String Quartet, as well as faculty and students from CalArts, Michigan, Yale, and many prestigious universities. These interpretations have stimulated dissertations and academic publications on its creation in China, the United States, Spain, Turkey, and Puerto Rico. In addition, he has been a guest artist at Beijing Capitol Normal University, Princeton, Virginia, and many others. He has had outstanding participation in forums in various countries, including Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela. As a pop musician, he has made more than six thousand interventions in all industry media, worldwide. He was President of the Musicians Union of Puerto Rico, and founder of several entities that sought the development of musical creation. He works as a Professor at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico.



Distinguished professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Román was the first female neurologist in Puerto Rico and founder of several non-profit organizations that benefit children and adults with epilepsy and other neurological diseases. With the help of her mother, Dr. Roman skipped several grades in school and is shocked when at 18 she is denied admission to a US medical school because she is black. Roman moves to Paris where he quickly learns French and begins his medical studies, later specializing in neurology. Years later, Harvard University awarded her a Scholarship Still active, Dr. Román is a consultant for the Parkinson Foundation, Puerto Rico and various societies that assist patients with epilepsy.

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Lawyer, feminist activist and defender of human rights. Her activism has focused on the fight against racism and discrimination against women, sexual orientation and gender identity. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Human Rights and of the Advisory Council of the Network of Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women. 2012-2014 she was President of the Puerto Rico Bar Association (Puerto Rico Bar Association) Former President of the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana political party of which she is currently Minority Leader and Senator by Accumulation in the Senate of Puerto Rico and President of the Commission Human Rights and Labor Affairs of the Senate. The Senator is a co-founder of several important organizations dedicated to these causes. She is the author of numerous articles, essays, short stories and poetry that have been published in anthologies and newspapers.


Born in Barrio Obrero, Santurce, Awilda is a painter, mixed media and installation artist, and dance performer. Heavily influenced by the DADA movement and conceptual art, Awilda studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico in Old San Juan and earned a Master's Degree in Painting/Studio Art from the Pratt Institute in New York City. Her greatest influence was her parents who, immersed in the Harlem Renaissance, surrounded her with their interest in books, dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, architecture, gastronomy, dance, music, cinema, jazz, bomba and everything creative.


The recipient of numerous art residencies and awards, Awilda's work has been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York City.

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Benjamín studied journalism at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (San Juan, Puerto Rico) Benjamín Torres Gotay is a journalist, writer, and member of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language. A native of Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, he has been a journalist for more than 30 years. Since 1997 he has worked for El Nuevo Día, where he has been a reporter, editor, editorialist and deputy editor. Currently, he is a senior writer, columnist, and podcaster.

His numerous awards include the National Journalism Award from the Puerto Rico Journalists Association and the Overseas Press Club Award for Journalistic Excellence. He has also been awarded twice with the Bolívar Pagán Journalism Prize, awarded by the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. In 2013 he published his first novel, Tattoos on the girl's body.


Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Virgen Milagros Orta Rodríguez (Choco) is an actress, singer, and percussionist from a family of musicians and singers. In addition to the influence of her community of musicians, Choco received a BA in Theater Education from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras (Cum Laude). In the 1980s, Choco presents "Choco, Mambo y Algo Más", in honor of the musical genres of the 1940s and 1950s.

His television appearances include, “La Tiendita De La Esquina” (comedy) and “Latino” (music program) and “RAICES”, an annual production of Banco Popular. On the big screen he appears in "Bala Perdida", "Dios Los Cria" and "Assassins 1995". His lead singles include: Chico Is The Man (2010) Killing Me Softly (2013) Bomba Lamento Para Oscar López Rivera (2015, Tofú Sin Lechón (2016). His LPs include: Sentimiento y Sabor (1997) La Reina Del Sabor (2001) ) Right Now (2009) Choco Swing (2011) 30 Years Sharing Flavor (2018)

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Painter and sculptor assembler. He received a BA from the University of Puerto Rico and an MA from New York University. Retired professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus, his numerous awards include scholarships and residencies and the prestigious MaArthur Foundation Genius Fellowship Award, 2021.

Among his numerous exhibitions, his work has been shown at the National Gallery in Washington DC, Sarasota Arts Museum, the Biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York, Grand Palais (Paris), Cleveland Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio. In 2023, Daniel will open an exhibition of his work at MOMA PS 1 in New York.


Renowned muralist with numerous international exhibitions.

Puerto Rico Exhibitions: Caribbean Color, Santurce is Law, The Walls Speak. Zayas has murals in the Museum of the Americas, Petrus Gallery, Caribe Hilton Hotel, San Patricio Plaza, Banco Popular de la Pda. 22.
International Exhibitions: 12th Biennial of Havana, Cuba, Forensic Curatorium, Villa Alegre, Chile, Street Art Tallahassee, FL, 3rd and 4th International-MULI Biennial of Muralism and Public Art in Colombia, 352Walls - Gainesville, FL, Fiesta de Colores, Ecuador, Artist 4 Israel, Israel, TODAY Villa Francisca, Dominican Republic, Caribbean Festival, Santiago de Cuba. Zamora Urban Art Festival, Ecuador, The Miramar International Art Biennial, Buenos Aires, Argentina, The Tarija International Mural Biennial, Bolivia. Hipódromo Camarero, Juana de Caicedo y Cuero Educational Institution of Cali, Colombia, Casa Alcaldía de Zamora, Ecuador and Loiza Festival of El Barrio in New York among others. In 2017, Zayas received the Key to the City of Lyn, Massachusetts.


Makeup artist, born in Río Piedras and raised in Carolina.

This proud mother of four children worked as a makeup artist throughout her community before working in the same capacity on TV specials, Tele11, independent video productions, miniseries, commercials and photography.


Glorimar once worked as a receptionist for former senator and comedian Yazmin Mejías. He currently dedicates his time to rescuing abandoned animals.


Born in Cayey, José is a repair technician who offers excellent services in all areas of Eastern Puerto Rico. He is a specialist in repair and maintenance of household appliances such as refrigerators, washer-dryers, microwaves, stoves, ovens and others.

Contact: 939-325-8441


A native of the San Antón neighborhood in Ponce, Banchs-Cabrera studied at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She has a specialty in Visual and Hearing Impairments with a Concentration in Drama from the same university. In addition, she has a master's degree in Education with a concentration in Archival Art History and Museology from the Universidad del Caribe. Her doctoral concentration is in Curriculum and Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She is the founder of Casa Negra San Antón, an organization whose mission is to educate, maintain and preserve the roots of our Afro-descendant ancestors. She is also a community leader and cultural manager. She offers services as a certified trainer in the area of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports in public schools in Puerto Rico.


Santos-Febres is an author, poet, novelist, literature professor, essayist, literary critic, and author of children's books. Her work focuses on issues of race, diaspora identity, female sexuality, gender fluidity, desire, and power, and has been translated into French, English, Italian, Romanian, Korean, Portuguese, and Islander. Her published poetry includes: Anamú y manigua (1990), The escaped order (1991), Boat People (1994, 2021), Tercer Mundo (2004), Renunciation Lessons (2021), Huracanada (2018). Short stories: Glass fish and other stories, The correct body, A possible past and Violent women. Novels include: Sirena Selena dressed in sorrow (2001), Any Wednesday I am yours (2002), Faith in disguise (2009), Our Lady of the night (2006) and Gardel's lover (2015) Before the light arrives ( 2021) ). In 2010, Santos Febres won the United Nations Cultural Medal for her work as founder of the main literary event in Puerto Rico La Palabra/Festival de la Palabra (2009-2019). Recognized by the Spanish newspaper El País as one of the 20 most influential Latin American personalities, in 2019 she won the Prix Nationale de Littérature de l'Academie de Pharmacie in Paris, France for La amante de Gardel. Since 2020, as part of the Kellogg Foundation Solidarity Council for Racial Equity and together with her husband Ballesta Nueve, she is developing a documentary series entitled "The AfroLatinx HealingRace Project".


Born in Guayama, Nelie started singing at a very young age. Influenced by her aunts who are all teachers, she studied at the University of Puerto Rico focusing on singing, special education, and Spanish.

In 2006, Nelie began producing “Ambos a Dos”, a children's radio show, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico. The program focuses on age-appropriate music that can be shared by family members and teachers in schools. Over the years, the program has expanded to include poetry readings and other performances.


He has a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in Architecture from the School of Architecture of the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, 1986.

Since 1995 he has been a professor at the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico.

As a student he obtained the medal of the College of Architects and Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico. During the first years of his career he worked for various firms in San Juan until in 1999 he founded the firm Ocasio Rivera Arquitectos. In 2007 he established the firm NeArq Studio in San Juan.


Master of Education, Bank Street College of Education, NYC and Doctorate in History of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean from the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. He was a History professor at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. As historian, founder, and director of the Casa Paoli Cultural Center in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he has published more than a dozen books on cultural and historical topics and edited another 50. In 2005, his monographic study on mural art by artist Ríos Rey, Considered the most important exponent of muralism in Puerto Rico, it was awarded Best Art Book of the Year by the International Association of Art Critics. In addition to working as a journalist, writer, radio host and researcher, Murray-Irizarry is a promoter of special events, both locally and internationally. He is the founder of the Society for the Historic Preservation of Puerto Rico and evaluates proposals from the Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.


Born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Nales is the first Afro-Puerto Rican to serve as a television presenter and host, since 1981. As a television anchor for WAPA TV's NOTICENTRO and NOTICENTRO AMERICA, he has received numerous awards for his journalism. An unwavering defender of people of color, he has been honored by the Puerto Rico Bar Association, among other institutions.


Born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Morales began his university studies at the University of Puerto Rico. He later transferred to Iowa State University to pursue a degree in Animal Science. His Veterinary studies a License was obtained at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Morales, a Carolina resident, works with both small animals and farm animals. His veterinary clinic is in Carolina, Clínica Veterinaria Villamar.


Painter, sculptor, and screen printer whose Loiza studio is filled with hundreds of folkloric images that highlight and honor his African roots. Samuel's images and sculptures capture the rich culture of Loiza's bomba musicians and dancers and their humble community. Initially self-taught, Samuel studied at the San Juan School of Plastic Arts but felt alienated by the negative response to his folkloric style. True to his vision and skills in figurative art, Samuel has exhibited work in galleries in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Cleveland, among others.


"I consider myself a worker who likes everyone who devotes himself to his work with passion and creates something new, that is an Artist."


Born in Río Piedras, Tito studied cinematography at the University of Puerto Rico and spent three years at the International Film and Television School in Cuba. In 2011, Tito founded Caserío Films to focus on stories from marginalized communities. In 2013 he produced the short video '12:16' and in 2014 he wrote and produced his first feature film 'El Antillano', a documentary about the life of Ramón Emiterio Betances, a doctor and abolitionist. In 2017, Tito wrote and edited the feature documentary 'Filiberto'.


Born in Guaynabo, Yolanda began writing at a very young age.

In 1990 he wrote and directed a play titled “A donde el amor”. In 2004, his first book of short stories and in 2005 his first novel. Professor and Resident Writer at EDP University, Yolanda is founder and director of the Chair of Ancestral Black Women (Department of Black Female Ancestry)

His numerous awards and publications include:

-2023 Residency Scholarship, Words Without Borders

-2022 Letras Boricuas, Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Columbia University in NY (Sundial House) publishes a bilingual edition of her books, Negras y Yo


-National Creation Award 2021 for his book Calle de la Resistencia

-2018 PEN Club of Puerto Rico. First time an LGBTQ writer has been awarded

-2016 Writer of the Year in Queer Literature, LGBT Community Center of Puerto Rico -2015 and 2012 Institute of Puerto Rican Culture

-2015 Harmless-looking Animals, Book of the Year

-2013 Las negras, National Short Story Award, PEN Club de PR

-2008 National Award from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature

-2007 Ojos de Luna, Book of the Year, PR




Town of Rio Piedras, Neighborhood of Cupey

Free register of the slave Anastasio Castro, owned by Doña Leocadia Garcia, a domestic worker, has an alibi and is registered in the Cupey neighborhood. 

Age: 11 years

stature: growing

Colour: black

Hair: ?
Brown eyes

Normal nose
Big Mouth

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La Abolicion en PR, Documento Official.jpg

Documento oficial anunciando la abolición de la esclavitud en Puerto Rico

30 de marzo de 1873. 

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