Union Mourns Its Latino Culture Pioneer
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
DC 37, family and friends are shocked and saddened at the sudden death of Alfredo Alvarado, who died on February 9. He retired last August after 17 years as an associate editor at the union’s award-winning newspaper, the Public Employee Press.
A media trailblazer, before joining DC 37 Alfredo founded and published Latino NY magazine and hosted the first Latin music radio show in the New York City market on WBAI.
His groundbreaking radio show, and later Latino NY, documented the birth and growth of salsa and Latin music and culture. Alfredo interviewed and befriended many music greats—Tito Puente, Rueben Blades, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, David Sanchez, Cachao, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Valentin and other artists while carving a space for inclusion of Puerto Rican culture in New York City’s highly competitive media and entertainment fields.
“Alfredo was a musicologist and mentor who provided a start and a space for other writers, photographers and filmmakers to shine including Mark Holston, Fernando Gonzalez, Larry Birnbaum, Enid Farber, Judith Escalona, and Awilda Rivera of WBGO,” said writer Eugene Holley Jr.
His articles for Public Employee Press shone a light on important issues regarding health and public hospitals, Emergency Medical Service workers in Locals 2507 and 3621, and public education and politics. He wrote about the destruction of his beloved homeland Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, highlighting the volunteer missions of union members who collected and delivered supplies and traveled to the island to provide relief and help rebuild.
Alvarado won awards for his writing that celebrated Latino culture and the unique creative pursuits of DC 37 members such as musician Joe Bataan, father of Boogaloo and a retired member of Local 1457, and hip-hip’s first photographer Joe Conzo Jr., a Local 2507 paramedic and unsung 9/11 hero whose book “Born in the Bronx” documents the birth of the art form in the “Boogie Down.”
An intellectual and gentle soul with sly wit and candor, Alfredo Alvarado was known for his positive energy, calm spirit and love for sports and the rich culture and politics of the Latino Diaspora.
A frequent traveler to Puerto Rico and Salvador, Bahia, in Brazil, Alfredo was fluent in three languages and played in two bands, Samba New York and Manhattan Samba. While working at the union, he earned his master’s degree in labor studies from CUNY School of Professional Studies.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, to please make donations in memoriam of Alfredo Alvarado to:
El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th St.
New York, NY 10029
Thanks to Diane Williams for writing this beautiful tribute to our friend and colleague. Alfredo Alvarado. We are all so saddened by his death that came so unexpectedly. Alfredo never tooted his own horn! Who would have known of his many talents and accomplishments? Never from his own lips. He worked with all of our PEP team and was so generous, carrying out many acts of kindness and generosity, always showing solidarity with the rest of us. He had a subtle but wonderful sense of humor…he always called me J-Lo and when I would see him after my retirement, would tell him that I missed that–and then he would call me J-Lo. One of my favorite Alfredo stories is the time I was writing about Coach Calvin Kizer’s basketball team in Brooklyn [another departed friend from DC 37 and a member of Local 1549!] and Alfredo told me that, if I really wanted to sound like I knew what I was doing, I should use the term “hardwood” in my story–I did and it worked beautifully…a simple generous gesture…typical of Alfredo. The last time I saw him, he was standing outside the restaurant where we held our Farewell to the PEP Team and the PEP Newspaper Luncheon…standing there smiling and talking to Greg Heires. He is gone but he is missed and will not be forgotten. Jane LaTour
It’s true he was very modest about his accomplishments. I am sorry I didn’t know him better now that see what an interesting guy he was. A lesson that we should take time to get to know each other better. Moira Dolan