BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK | Herman Hewitt was speaking of his longtime friend and colleague Carlos “Chino” García, who was being memorialized with a stunning mosaic, created by muralist Juan Carlos Pinto.
“I felt that we must honor our people while they are still with us,” Hewitt stated.
The unveiling event took place, accompanied by live music, joyful dancing and speeches, on Sat., Nov. 26, at the Olean for All People’s Garden at 293-295 E. Third St., between Avenues B and C.
Realtor Hewitt, who created one of the first Black-owned businesses on the Lower East Side and is president of the board of directors of the LES People’s Mutual Housing Association, declared, “Today is Open Mike Day.”
Indeed, dozens upon dozens of García’s past and present fellow community activists, old-timers and newcomers, friends and family — his daughter Taina, son-in-law and two grandchildren came in from California — and LES neighbors spoke about how he inspired them and touched their lives over the years.
García, 76, co-founder of the beloved former CHARAS/El Bohio Community and Cultural Center on E. Ninth Street, was in a wheelchair and is currently in rehab at the Gouverneur Health nursing facility on Madison Street. But on this day, he looked the picture of health as he was lauded and loved.
Pinto said in an e-mail, “Chino taught me that Art is not a privilege of the rich. It is a human right. This homage is a natural action. I think we will do a full wall of leaders and activists here. Chino deserves that kind of respect.”