President Joe Biden awarded the National Humanities Medal to Puerto Rican artists Jose Feliciano and Antonio Martorell on March 21, 2023.
There were a total of 24 people who were recognized at the White House, as only select and outstanding individuals were chosen. The award ceremony was supposed to have taken place in 2021; however, the ceremony had to be delayed due to the pandemic.
Musician Jose Feliciano, a Puerto Rican who is 77 years old, received the National Humanities Medal; he is best known for his chart-topping hit “Feliz Navidad.” Jose is also considered to be one of the first Latino artists to pursue a career in the English-language industry. He has had a successful career for over 60 years and attained many awards and acknowledgments, despite some obstacles along the way. Feliciano has left a large imprint in the music scene, leading the way for Latino artists who wish to cross into the English market.
Fellow Puerto Rican Antonio Martorell was also awarded the prestigious National Humanities Medal. During the ceremony, President Biden commended Morell, stating he is “one of Puerto Rico’s greatest cultural ambassadors.” Martorell has dedicated his work to creating contemporary art pieces that display the Puerto Rican experience. His work enhanced the development of the use of posters for self-expression throughout the 60s and 70s, leaving his mark on the art community. Martorell unites people with his work, bringing together all races, genders, and cultures.
These two artists greatly impacted the arts community, which is why they were awarded the Medal. Not only have these artists advocated for Puerto Rican culture, but they have also increased diversity in America, creating art that everyone can appreciate.
It is a monumental achievement that these Puerto Rican artists were recognized by President Biden and awarded the National Humanities Medal. The Medal is only awarded to those who have contributed to the excellence and growth of the arts throughout the United States.