UCTP Liaison Officer, Chalinaru Dones with Grand Marshall Waleska Lugo DeJesus
during the 33rd Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, MA (UCTP Taíno News) – On Sunday, September 17, 2023, hundreds marched through downtown Springfield to celebrate the 33rd annual Puerto Rican Parade. Puerto Rican flags were waved by the thousands of spectators who lined the streets while Latin Music filled the air. The 2023 Parade theme was “Nunca Olvides Tus Raices, Never forget your roots.”
The parade's Grand Marshall, Waleska Lugo DeJesus was featured atop a large float decorated in the style of a tropical forest from Borikén (Puerto Rico) that was presented to pay respect to the Indigenous Taíno Peoples of the Caribbean. A Liaison Officer for the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), Chalinaru Dones, was invited by the Grand Marshall to not only accompany her on the special float, but to also open the Parade with a Taíno prayer. Dones is a citizen of the Guainía Taíno Tribe.
Lugo DeJesus stated “I wanted to bring authentic representation to help educate that we still exist and Chalinaru reminded me that when we don’t acknowledge our history we can be erased.”
Waleska Lugo DeJesus is the CEO of Inclusive Strategies and the founding director of the Healing Racisim Institute. She is widely known for her anti-racism advocacy and for identifying educational strategies to create equity. Source: UCTPTN 09182023