Diaz Family and the Great Depression

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Jones Act, which granted American citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. The territory had come under U.S. jurisdiction after the Spanish-American War of 1898. Between 1898 and 1917 any Puerto Rican who lived on the U.S. mainland was considered a “resident alien.”

As Puerto Rican citizens, however, the people on the island could not serve in the U.S. military. By making them American citizens, the Jones Act enabled some 20,000 Puerto Ricans to serve in active duty during World War I.

During the 1920s, thousands of Puerto Ricans took advantage of their new American citizenship and came “stateside.” It was a time of economic boom and large cities welcomed the influx of cheap labor.

In 1927, Manny Diaz moved with his family from Puerto Rico to New York. The family had hardly settled in when suddenly the country was in the throes of The Great Depression.

As part of our partnership series Story Corp Historias, here is Manny Diaz’s story.

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B as in Beauty

Alberto Ferreras is probably not content with sitting still or doing any one thing for too long. Born in Madrid, Spain and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Ferreras has been New York based since the 1990s. He has adapted plays based on classic Latin American novels in Spanish. He designs and promotes film and documentary projects for cable outlets like MTV and HBO. He even has written music that has been performed by such artists as Madonna.

All of those elements, music, books, movies, and pop culture are incorporated into his first novel titled B as in Beauty. Well received by critics and audiences alike, Ferrera’s “B” is a large girl who is miserable as she struggles with her looks in a thin-crazed society. It’s not until she embraces her large size that she finally begins to live life more fully. Okay, so she becomes a “comfort provider” for men who love large women. But it’s a fun story told with lots of comedy.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.