Semana Hispana – Spanish Week (Lawrence, MA)

postersThe library has  two collections of photographs, a number of posters, and a run of event programs.

Isabel Melendez, long time resident of Lawrence, Massachusetts and community activist, was the creative force behind Semana Hispana (Hispanic Week).  Many years ago, while she was attending the Puerto Rican Festival in Boston, the idea of Semana Hispana came to her.  Isabel, along with two female friends, one from Guatemala and the other from Brazil, had attended the festival.  They had enjoyed the music, the many flags, and the great pleasure the participants expressed.  The entire experience made Isabel and their friends nostalgic for their own culture.  The idea became reality when Isabel created a festival in which all Latin American countries could express their traditional customs and folklore in Lawrence.  In 1979, Isabel talked to Mayor Lawrence LeFebre, who was interested in her idea.  Lawrence celebrated its first Hispanic Week in September of that year, not June as is traditional now (2009).  Semana Hispana has developed into a pan-Hispanic cultural event attended by Spanish and non-Spanish speaking people all over the Northeastern United States.


Isabel Melendez, pictured here, has been highlighted in an article in the Journal for the Center fro Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

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