Nueva Voices: The Nueva York Audio Tour

Nueva Voices is about stories. In this selection of 16 audio clips, you will hear contemporary people telling stories about family, about music, about language, about community. You will also hear letters, poems, and music from various periods that help tell the story of New York’s indelible connection to the Spanish-speaking world. The stories cover a range of topics across the curriculum and are referenced, with a link, on the appropriate individual materials. Each clip is two to five minutes long. The audio clips were developed for the Nueva York exhibition, but will remain on this site beyond the exhibition’s January 2011 closing date. Each clip is available in both English and Spanish.

Clip 1: Introduction
Storyteller David González, the Nueva York narrator, introduces the bilingual audio segments.

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Clip 2: Spanish Jews in New York
Norman Benzaquen speaks of his family’s roots in Spain and Morocco, and of his membership in Congregation Shearith Israel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The oldest Jewish congregation in the U.S., Shearith Israel dates to Spanish and Portuguese Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654.

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Clip 3: Searching for Jan Rodrigues
Dr. Ramona Hernández, executive director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, describes the Institute’s research into the life of Jan Rodrigues, who spent several months living on Mannahatta—the original name for Manhattan Island—in 1613-1614, and is the first known non-native resident of the area.

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Clip 4: The Rionda-Fanjul Sugar Empire
Pepe Fanjul, great-great-nephew of Manuel Rionda, talks about the family’s 160-year history in the Cuban sugar business and its early connections with New York City.

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Clip 5: A Sugar Plantation in Cuba, 1849
Actress Lois Chiles reads an excerpt from William Cullen Bryant’s 1849 description of sugar-cane milling on a Cuban plantation, work done by a combination of enslaved African laborers and steam-driven equipment.

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Clip 6: Baseball En Español
Clemson Smith Muñiz is the Spanish-language voice of Major League Baseball’s Thursday night baseball games (and of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NFL’s New York Jets). He reminisces about his childhood passion for baseball, and about Latino superstars Roberto Clemente and Sammy Sosa, among others.

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Clip 7: “Guajira Guantanamera” 
Cuba’s most widely recognized song was written by Joseíto Fernández (1908-1979) in 1929. But the lyrics we’re more familiar with today were adapted by composer Julián Orbón from Cuban writer and revolutionary José Martí’s poem “Yo soy un hombre sincero.” The song was popularized worldwide by Pete Seeger who here performs the song in 1963.

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  (“Guanatanamera” by Pete Seeger from the recording entitled Headlines and Footnotes: A collection of Topical Songs, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW 40111, © 1999. Used by Permission.)
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To hear the original Joseíto Fernández version click here:
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Clip 8: Roosevelt’s “Iron Claws” 
In 1904, shortly after the Spanish-Cuban-American War brought U.S. expansionism to Spanish America, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío addressed this angry poem to President Theodore Roosevelt. In this clip, tour narrator and poet David Gonzalez reads the poem in English.

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To hear Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa read the poem in Spanish, click here:

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Clip 9: Brooklyn Oral History Project, 1974
Two Puerto-Rican-born residents of Brooklyn were among several people interviewed in 1974 by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Ernesto SepÚlveda’s story begins with his arrival in Brooklyn in 1926. He worked as a car mechanic, and later owned a grocery store. Celia Vice, another 1926 arrival, was president of the Puerto Rican Heritage Publishing Company and an activist who organized the first Three Kings Day Parade in Brooklyn in 1961.

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Clip 10: Panamanian Fourth of July
Panamanian saxophonist Gene Jefferson describes his disappointment with the dull goings-on during his first July 4th after arriving in the U.S.—until he found his way to a Panamanian neighborhood where people knew how to celebrate.

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Clip 11: Basque Presence in New York
Brooklyn native Emilia Doyaga remembers her youth in New York City’s Basque community, which revolved around the Centro Vasco, the community center now known by its Basque name, Euzko Etxea.

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Clip 12: Racism in New York
Juan Flores, who teaches Latino Studies at NYU and Hunter College, discusses the discrimination faced by Spanish-speaking and black residents in New York from the late-19th century on into the 20th century. (Note: Racist epithets—may not be appropriate for all students.)

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Clip 13: A Ballad for Sugar-Beet Workers
Poet Sandra MarÍa Esteves reads “Corrido for Luisa Moreno,” an anonymous poem about union-activist Moreno’s efforts to organize Mexican sugar-beet workers.

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Clip 14: Carmen Unanue/Goya Foods
Basque natives Prudencio and Carolina Unanue emigrated from Spain to Puerto Rico in 1903, and set up a small food distribution business. Later they moved to New York City, and founded Goya Foods in 1936. Their son, Joseph Unanue, ran the company from 1977 to 2004. Here, Joseph Unanue’s wife, Carmen, discusses her husband’s early days working for his father.

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Clip 15: Puerto Rican Theater Designer
Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell, designer of the chairs in Nueva York’s exhibition theater, discusses his goal to design both for comfort and to promote a deep sense of ethnic identification.

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Clip 16: Record Your Story
Narrator David González talks of his own family history in Nueva York, and invites visitors to leave a brief comment or a family story.

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Clip 17: Visitor Responses

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