National Puerto Rican Parade: Famed sesame street actress speaks on education
May 24, 2012 · Print This Article
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. has announced that Ohio, “The Buckeye State”, has been granted the State Dedication for the17thAnnual National Puerto Rican Day Parade (55thAnnual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York since the event’s inception as a local organization). Each year the parade organizers have honorees marching in the parade and HispanicOhio.com was able to speak to author/actress Sonia Manzano (New York Godmother), also known as “Maria” from Sesame Street who is one of the honorees.
Manzano’s first professional acting job was in Godspell in 1969; two years later she began her amazing career as “Maria” on Sesame Street. Aside from acting along muppets and teaching pre-school children their A, B, Cs, Manzano has made appearances on TNT’s Law and Order and The Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible.
It was clear Manzano has a passion to teach young children. Aside from Sesame Street she has published the children’s book, A Box Full of Kittens”, and due out in September is her first adult book, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.
Manzano says the book is about “a girl’s social consciousness awakening”; the book is set in Spanish Harlem, 1969. Like Sesame Street, her books are a way to teach youth about a world constantly changing.
Manzano agrees the age of learning has reached the point where “a person who learns with a pen and paper is at a disadvantage to someone who is learning on a computer,” adding that “people who learn on computers learn differently than those who don’t.”
According to childrensdatabank.org, Hispanics are the least likely to have home internet access compared to Whites, Blacks, and the general public, creating an inherent disadvantage to the new age learning process. Childrensdatabank.org also says younger children are the most influenced by technology, which is why Manzano believes education at a young age is so important.
“Early education is probably the most important place to improve because it’s hard to catch up when you’re 14,” she said.
Education from kindergarten to grade 12 has been scrutinized by both parents and lawmakers alike. Manzano says the United States government always looks toward education when funding cuts are made.
“When they cut funds, education goes first,” she said. “Education in America is sort of taking a backseat to everything else and you can’t watch the news without someone saying Latino’s are falling behind.”
As for the parade, Manzano says it is a great honor to be a part of something bigger than oneself, she said over the years it has become more than just a parade, it’s a celebration of culture.
“I used to come every year when I was a child as a spectator, she said. “It would be wonderful if we would all be united and work together to participate in the fruits (of our country).”