One of 40 organizations recently recognized for its contributions to the history, culture, vibrancy, and identity of communities of color in greater Chicago (see Chicago Cultural Treasures), Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) is the longest-standing Latino cultural center in Chicago. Established in 1971, it was named in honor of Segundo Ruiz Belvis, a Puerto Rican patriot and member of a secret abolitionist society that freed slave children under Spanish rule. In that spirit, SRBCC realizes its mission to preserve and promote appreciation of the culture and arts of Puerto Rico and Latin America, with a focus on its African heritage.
Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center and After School Matters partner to provide paid apprenticeships to youth (ages 14-24) to learn Afro-Latin Percussion, Bomba, Afro-Caribbean Jazz, Music Production, Interdisciplinary Storytelling, and Caribbean Cooking. SRBCC also offers weekly and monthly percussion classes, live music events, and community workshops that promote cultural understanding through artistic expression, keeping youth and professional teaching artists safe, with meaningful opportunities to create, present and produce art.
SRBCC evolved as a cultural organization from a community arts project developed by Association House of Chicago and community activists of the Latin American Defense Organization (LADO). These organizations supported the economic and democratic rights of the Puerto Rican and Latino community of Chicago, focusing on the areas of civic involvement, citizenship, cultural identity, public education, health, safety and security, housing, and economic opportunity.
All SRBCC programs receive partial funding from Illinois Arts Council, MacArthur Foundation, Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Chicago Cultural Treasures, Sueños Festival, and Field Foundation of Illinois.