Concilio building. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania

705-09 North Franklin Street

Concilio, or the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia Inc., was founded in 1962 by a group of Latino leaders who were concerned with the social problems facing the growing Latino community of Philadelphia. As a federation of various Latino fraternal and social organizations, Concilio served as a liaison between the Spanish-speaking community and the rest of the city, and was the first organization specifically founded to address Latino community development. Concilio confronted issues such as discrimination, poor housing, inadequate city services and lack of bilingual education, and sought to establish Latino representation in city agencies and school administrations. In addition to cultural events, Concilio continues to advocate for Philadelphia's diverse Latino community and provides access to health, employment and educational services.

The large postwar influx of Puerto Rican migrants to Philadelphia experienced marked (and sometimes violent) residential and institutional discrimination. In 1954, the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission's report addressed the growing tension between the more established Philadelphia residents (primarily of European descent) and the newer Puerto Rican population as the "Puerto Rican problem"—clearly demonstrating the Puerto Rican community's need for their own advocates.

Concilio recognized the importance of portraying a self-determined, positive image of the community that would contravene negative images generated by the press, bigoted neighbors, and city officials. To this end, Concilio organized the first Puerto Rican Day Parade. Now in its 44th year, the parade has been expanded to a weeks-long festival and is probably Concilio's most high-profile program.

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