Richard Blanco, who became the first Latino to be chosen as presidential inaugural poet, is becoming a part of history once more. The poet has been selected to participate in the ceremony to formally re-designate the U.S. Interests Section in Havana as a U.S. Embassy, and RockOrange is working with him as he gets ready to head back to the country of his roots.
The historic ceremony, where Secretary of State John Kerry will raise the American flag over the embassy, will take place on August 14. It marks the first time an American secretary of state visits Cuba since 1945. Blanco will read a poem he has written especially for the occasion, evoking the stories of the people on both sides of the Florida Straits, separated by 90 miles of sea, yet connected by complex emotional ties.
“As a poet, and as a Cuban-American, I am proud and grateful for the opportunity to be part of this historic moment,” Blanco said. “It is a true honor to return to the country of my roots in this capacity, and commemorate this step in improving relations between the United States and Cuba.”
This poem is sure to be as emotive and poignant as “One Today,” the poem he recited at the second swearing-in ceremony for President Barack Obama in 2013. Blanco wrote “One Today” taking inspiration from his own life story, which now comes full circle. A Cuban-American raised in Miami, he has become a public voice since the presidential inauguration, and is now called upon once again to take the emotional pulse of the nation at this historic moment.
Blanco was born in Madrid to Cuban exiles, and shortly after his birth, his parents settled in New York. A few years later, their journey took them further south, and they finally settled in Miami, where Blanco grew up surrounded by Cuban culture, but not visiting the country of his parents until 1994.
Today, he has become an example of Hispanics reaching the American Dream, and taking it further than others have before.