Kent State to hold panel discussion on Puerto Rican statehood

Kelsey Leyva

Kent State University will host the panel, “Puerto Rico: The 51st Star on the U.S. Flag?” Jan. 31 to openly discuss the possibility of Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state.

Jose Lopez, adjunct professor and executive director for the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be the keynote speaker for Kent State’s discussion. He has been the keynote speaker or guest lecturer at more than 50 universities in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada. Lopez has also been active in the fight for Puerto Rican rights and the construction of a Latino agenda in the Americas for the last 40 years.

There will also be a panel along with Lopez. The panelists include:

• Juan Crespo, executive director of the Hispanic Alliance, Inc.

• Amoaba Gooden, chairperson for Kent State’s Pan-African Studies Department

• David Kaplan, geography professor

• Joseph Ortiz provost faculty associate for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

• Elizabeth Pryor-Smith, associate history professor

José Feliciano, Lester Lefton’s ambassador, will be the moderator.

The discussion will focus on the fall 2012 referendum by Puerto Rico regarding its statehood. The referendum reported that of valid votes, 54 percent of Puerto Rican voters said they did not think Puerto Rico should continue to have territorial status, and 44.6 percent said they would prefer statehood to becoming a sovereign free associated state. Participants will be encouraged to explore the issue from various angles and educate themselves on Puerto Rico’s history as a US territory.

Sandra Morgan, director of outreach programs for the College of Arts and Sciences, helped organize the discussion.

“It should be a lively discussion, I would think,” Morgan said.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Kiva. The College of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are co-sponsoring the program.

A dessert and coffee reception will immediately follow the panel discussion in the Student Multicultural Center.

For more information, contact Sandra Morgan at 330-672-8986, Joseph Ortiz at 330-672-2225 or Beverly Arrington at 330-672-2650.

Contact Kelsey Leyva at [email protected].