Obama presents arts awards to Americans of Mexican origin
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to Americans of Mexican origin Luis Valdez, Sandra Cisneros and Santiago Jimenez Jr., as well as the National Medal of the Chicano Humanities to writer Rudolfo Anaya.
Notimex reported the president awarded a total of 21 medals in both categories to personalities, actors, musicians, dancers and chefs, including Spanish chef Jose Andres, Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Wynton Marsalis, Moises Kaufman, Audra McDonald, Ron Chernow and Elaine Pagels, among others.
“What the arts and humanities do is to raise our identities and make us see each other, and all honored today have a talent with this kind of creative empathy that allows us to share the essence of the most important and profound in us,” Obama said.
Sandra Cisneros, an American of Mexican origin and author of “La casa on Mango Street,” was cited for enriching the literary narrative of the United States.
“For enriching the American narrative. through her novels, short stories, and poetry, she explores issues of race, class, and gender through the lives of ordinary people straddling multiple cultures. As an educator, she has deepened our understanding of American identity,” said the presidential citation.
Luis Valdez, Chicano playwright and director of the popular film “Zoot Suit,” was credited for bringing the traditions of the American southwest to the theater and the big screen.
“For bringing Chicano culture to American drama. As a playwright, actor, writer, and director, he illuminates the human spirit in the face of social injustice through award-winning stage, film, and television productions,” the citation said.
Rudolfo Anaya, recognized with the National Medal of Humanities, is author of the popular novel “Bless me ültima.”
The Spanish chef Jose Andres also received the National Medal of Humanities not only for his culinary talent, but for his efforts to promote education and clean technologies.