July 20, 2015

Gillibrand, Rangel & Velazquez Nominate Arturo Alfonso Schomburg For The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) today announced the nomination of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. In a letter to the President, they celebrated Mr. Schomburg’s social activism and dedication to preserving culture and history.

“Arturo Alfonso Schomburg worked to enhance black culture around the world, and his collection of black history studies is archived in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library of the New York Public Library named in his honor,” they wrote in the letter to the President. “A New York resident since 1891, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg raised awareness of the societal contributions of Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Americans through his work as a scholar, historian, author, and activist.”

“In 1922, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was elected president of the American Negro Academy after working to establish the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1911, which served to support the research efforts of African-American, African and Caribbean scholars.” 

"The Shomburg Center is now- in his legacy of scholarship and excellence- one of the leading public research libraries in the world,” said Carmen Santana, member of Queens Community Board 5. “Indeed, if there was just one Puerto Rican scholar deserving of the Medal of Freedom, it would be Arturo Alfonso Schomburg."

A copy of the letter to the President nominating Arturo Alfonso Schomburg included below.

Dear Mr. President,

We write to ask you to consider bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.  This year, his legacy will be honored by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for his dedication in collecting and preserving the artifacts, experiences and culture of the Black Diaspora during the Harlem Renaissance.

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg worked to enhance black culture around the world, and his collection of black history studies is archived in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library of the New York Public Library named in his honor.  A New York resident since 1891, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg raised awareness of the societal contributions of Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Americans through his work as a scholar, historian, author, and activist.

Mr. Schomburg founded Las dos Antillas, a cultural political group that worked for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and after the collapse of the Cuban revolutionary struggle, he focused on the African American community. 

In 1922, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was elected president of the American Negro Academy after working to establish the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1911, which served to support the research efforts of African-American, African and Caribbean scholars. 

Honoring Arturo Alfonso Schomburg with the Presidential Medal of Freedom would highlight Arturo Alfonso Schomburg’s work on behalf of freedom, black culture, and universal human rights.  We ask that you please consider him for this highest honor.