Organized in 1934 in a humble East Harlem apartment, New York’s Casita Maria was a place to provide Hispanic families with the educational support needed in their new homeland. It was a place where “the young could lead their parents and their community to full participation in the American Dream.” Among the “Casita Kids” alumnus were Tito Puente, Rita Moreno, and Tina Ramirez, the founder of Ballet Hispanico. The little apartment eventually became the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education and moved from Harlem into the South Bronx. This past summer, it moved into a brand new beautiful building, complete with a new theatre.
And that’s where Zora comes into the picture. On November 5, a slew of educators will meet and screen the film and discuss how to use the film and Zora’s books in their classrooms. I know those teachers and their students will take heed of the films message that their native culture is important, that there’s no need to assimilate into the culture du jour. Hopefully, we’re past the point when we all need to talk, look, and act alike – after all, America is a big melting pot, which is what keeps us vital and fresh.
Thanks to Carolyn Butts and African Voices Magazine for including the film in her many important undertakings.