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Oscar López Rivera Reflection on QOS – Que Ondee Sola

Oscar López Rivera Reflection on QOS

Oscar López Rivera

Decorated Vietnam Veteran, community activist and Puerto Rican political prisoner; serving his 31st year of federal prison for struggling for Puerto Rican independence.

The fact that we are commemorating the 40th anniversary of Que Ondee Sola illustrates how significant the founding of this publication has been for our community and for Puerto Rican and other NEIU students. It also teaches us how important ideas and creativity are, and makes us aware that the need to continue struggling is infinite.

Que Ondee Sola is the byproduct of a group of Puerto Rican students at NEIU who saw the need to create it and dared to make it a reality.  They saw the need of having a publication that represented their interests and concerns and could contribute to the preservation of their identity and culture. Today we can see how visionary they were, especially seeing how successive generations have followed in their footsteps and have made the publication even better. In order to better appreciate the significance of Que Ondee Sola we need to look at some of the history of the relationship between NEIU and the Puerto Rican community.

Many Puerto Ricans don’t know that there was a teachers’ college in the heart of our community – on Hirsch and Leavitt in Humboldt Park – that was made part of NEIU when the latter was built. Once the college was closed, the building was used to house the freshman class of Tuley High School and later became Sabin Elementary School. The community lost the college without getting another academic institution of higher learning to substitute it. More than a decade later (late ‘60s and early ‘70s) a small storefront – close to California and North Avenues – was being used by NEIU for an outreach program in the community. It was such a token program that the person in charge of running it was a man working full-time for a Settlement House, working on his master’s degree full-time at Williams College, and even known for being contemptuous and disdainful of his Puerto Rican identity and the community. Fortunately, there were Puerto Rican students at NEIU who were concerned with their plight and decided to struggle in order to make the university more responsive and relevant to their needs and the needs of other Latino students and the community. They founded Proyecto Pa’lante and joined with other Latino students to force the university to create Latino Studies programs.

What the students did and what Que Ondee Sola has become is an example of what tenacity and the willingness to follow ideas with action can accomplish. Their example allows us to appreciate the potential we have to create institutions for the benefit of our community and other Latino communities. Let’s put our ideas to work. Let’s talk the talk and walk the walk. Let’s dare to try to make this a better and more just world.

Originally Published in QOS April 2012 Special Edition, Vol. 40 No. 4

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