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May 16, 2007


NEW YORK, May 16, 2007 – New York’s renowned cable TV program producer and host Zunilda Fondeur has donated to the Dominican Archives of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York her collection of approximately 5,000 videotapes, covering a span of more than 17 years, from her show “Realidades,”an iconic program with hundreds of thousands of New York viewers.

The collection consists of videotaped interviews of prominent Dominican personalities, political figures, and civic and community leaders, as well as reporting on cultural events, political campaigns, parades, and other news and public events of interest to the Dominican community. The gift was announced by Dr. Ramona Hernández , director of the Institute, Idilio Gracia Peña, chief archivist of the Dominican Archives, and Ms. Fondeur.

“We are very pleased to receive this extraordinary collection from our beloved Zunilda Fondeur,” said Dr. Hernández.  “This extensive documentary material provides a window from which researchers and scholars can observe at close range the history, communities, politics, customs, and contemporary art of  Dominicans in the United States and in their ancestral land,”

According to Dr. Hernández, a professor of sociology at The City College, “everyone who has done something of historic importance among Dominicans in New York, or who has come from the Dominican Republic seeking to be known by Dominicans here, has been interviewed by Zunilda for “Realidades.”

The interviews include prominent Dominican political figures such as Juan Bosch and José Francisco Peña Gómez, who were interviewed during their visits to New York, or at events filmed in the Dominican Republic.  Leonel Fernández Reyna, the current President of the Dominican Republic, who attended school in New York, and New York State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, were interviewed during their early years of community activism.

Ms. Fondeur, who is herself Dominican, described her decision to make the donation as bittersweet. “I have had this material with me all these years, knowing what it has meant in terms of hours of work to keep our communities informed week after week, and I know how important this content is to a recounting of the experience of New York’s Dominicans and other Hispanics over the past 15 years.  It is a dream to be able to share this historical information with my community.”

Ms. Fondeur also noted that she chose the Dominican Archives to house her collection because of the caliber of its archivist and the strong support it receives from the City University of New York.  “Dominicans finally have, in the Dominican Archives, an institution dedicated to the preservation of our heritage, managed expertly by the professional staff of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, and housed in a facility that meets the requirements for proper preservation of this material, exceeding those of the facility that I myself could have provided.”

Chief Archivist Idilio Gracia Peña said that the receipt of the materials by the Archives is the first step in the long process required to make the relevant archival material in these thousands of videotapes available to scholars and others in the academic community, and in the general public.  The Dominican Archives will make a detailed inventory of the tapes, identifying the specific content of each one of them, as well as the topics and individuals appearing on them.

In addition, the Institute will seek funding to support the complex task of transferring the relevant archival material onto DVDs for more effective preservation, and to make them more easily available to the public. Mr. Gracia Peña said.

Dr. Hernández concluded: “Zunilda has made a significant contribution to the preservation of our culture through “Realidades,” and, now, through her donation of these historic materials to the Dominican Archives.  We hope that her initiative will inspire other Dominicans in the arts, the sciences, the professions, in radio, television, and on the Web, to contribute as well to the growth of the Dominican Archives because collectively and individually, all of them have a cultural patrimony that is simply too precious not to be preserved and shared.”

About the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute

Founded in 1992, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York is the only university-based think tank in the United States devoted exclusively to academic research on the history, socio-economic/political status, and culture of the Dominican people in the United States and abroad.  The Institute comprises three major components: the Research and Administration unit, the Dominican Library, and the Dominican Archives.  In addition, the Institute works to advance research and teaching in the area of Dominican Studies, and has established a CUNY Baccalaureate in this field administered by the CUNY Graduate Center, the only such degree program in the United States.  The Institute is headed by renowned sociologist Ramona Hernández, Ph.D., a specialist in Dominican immigration and the status of Dominican workers in the U.S. economy.  Hernández authored the seminal text The Mobility of Workers under Advanced Capitalism: Dominican Migration to the United States (2002), and co-authored Dominican Americans (1998), among a number of other books and articles.

CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Contact:

Idilio Gracia-Peña, 212.650.8865, dsi@ccny.cuny.edu, www.ccny.cuny.edu/dsi