Leticia Cotto on Celestino Jimenez

Celestino Jimenez_2.jpg

Dublin Core


Leticia Cotto on Celestino Jimenez


Celestino as a Frog Hollow Community Advocate


Celestino Jimenez was a strong advocate for his community in Frog Hollow, especially for the youth. He was an advocate, an athlete, a poet, and a musician, and a father. He shared his poetry at Luis Cotto's bakery, El Morro. In the membership of many community organizations such as the Hartford Public Library, the CICD, NRZ, and churches, he was always sure his voice was heard and was not afraid of going directly to large leaders to advocate for the betterment of his community. He was particularly passionate about the new Park Street Library branch at the Lyric, and the health and wellbeing of the youth.


Trinity College Liberal Arts Action Lab


Trinity College Liberal Arts Action Lab


December 3, 2021




English and Spanish




Hartford Public Library, Voices of Frog Hollow, NRZ, CICD, Advocacy

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Trinity College Liberal Arts Action Lab Students: Emeline Avignon and Catherine Doyle


Leticia Cotto




Leticia Cotto Interview on Celestino Jimenez (Top Audio)

Emeline[00:00:02] OK, so we are here with Leticia Cotto it is December 3rd at 10 a.m. and we're on Zoom. And now we're going to be speaking with her about her memories, about Celestino Jimerez. Am I pronouncing that correctly?

Leticia Cotto : Jiménez

Emeline : Jimenez and Maria Sanchez. And yeah, we will get this interview started now. So just to give. So maybe you don't want to answer this, but just a little background on you. And what what is just your if you just want to restate your name and your involvement and connection with Frog Hollow?

Leticia Cotto [00:00:47] So my name is Leticia Cotto and I'm the customer experience officer at the Hartford Public Library. My involvement with Frog Hollow, I managed the The Park branch for 14 years before this role that I'm in now for the Hartford Public Library and worked extensively in the community in making library services accessible for the community.

Catherine[00:01:17] Awesome, thank you. So first to start off, can you just tell us who was Celestino and how did you know him?

Leticia[00:01:25] So, Celestino Jimenez was a resident of the Frog Hollow neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. He also was an activist in the city of Hartford. So Celestino Jimenez was a poet. He his poetry and his how I came to know Celeste was through his poetry of new voices, Vocianio Neregré from Puerto Rico. So we used to own a coffee shop and bookstore on the corner of Babcock and Capital Avenue in Hartford, La peronesa a combria, coffeehouse and bookstore. And that's how we met Celestino. We knew him before that, but he would come to the to the coffee shop and do poetry readings there as well. So I came to know Celestino as a very active member of the community who advocated strongly for youth in his community for sports and health and wellness for youth in the community. In addition to definitely being one of the strongest advocates for the new park branch on Park Street. He was one of one of our biggest advocates.

Emeline[00:03:04]And so how would you think he impacted Frog Hollow, could you go into a little bit more about that?

Leticia [00:03:14] I smile because Celestino Jimenez, when he walked into a space, you just felt his presence because he he was just so passionate about advocating for the well-being of the residents and the neighborhood in Frog Hollow. And so everything that he did, he just brought forth this passion whenever he was in community meetings. Everyone knew that you were going to know what the community was thinking, feeling and wanting because Celestino Jimenez was going to let you know. So, yeah, whenever there was, we were planning any type of community meeting or any type of program. I would call on Celestino Jimenez because he he was a huge voice and advocate. There were moments also like with the church, that he was part of. They would get like bread or food. And if he had extra that he couldn't get rid of, he knew to come to the library and just bring light bags of extra bread or extra food that he knew would would. It would just go if he brought it to the library. And and and those are just some of the ways that that we came across Celestino on a daily basis at the park branch. In community meetings or just being present throughout throughout the strip of Park Street, advocating and connecting with people.And he was just very passionate about what he did.

Catherine [00:05:13] Do you know if he grew up in fog hollow?

Leticia [00:05:17] don't know if he grew up in Frog Hollow. I just know Celestino and my interactions with Celestino have always been around Frog Hollow.

Catherine [00:05:29] OK. And then going off to the how do you like impacted Frog Hollow? Can you tell us a little bit more about which community organizations he was involved with?

Leticia[00:05:45] I'm trying to think back and I don't want to give misinformation, but I'm thinking about HART. It used to be a community organizing organization in in Hartford and in the South, and I think Celestino Jimenez was associated with them. And I can't remember the name of the church, but there was a church on Broad Street that he was also very well connected to, and that's that's where he did a lot of his work out of. And I think he was also advocating for the use of that church and there was a gymnasium in that space to be used for the youth in the neighborhood. He was he was big on health and wellness and having people be active, either walking, running or involved in some type activity or sports.

Emeline[00:06:52] Yeah, we heard that he was a really big athlete and he was a fencer, possibly. Do you remember? or boxer?

Leticia[00:07:04] I don't know, but I know that he was very active and and an athlete, yes.

Emeline[00:07:15] Going back to his poetry, is there anywhere where he has kind of published or like anywhere where people could read his poetry because I feel like that would be a great legacy to his life

Leticia[00:07:34] I'm thinking back, I think that speaking with his, his, his wife or the widow about his work or his son and also my brother, because my brother would bring in Celestinoto the shop and then schedule him in for for poetry readings. And that's where we would probably be able to access some of his work.

Catherine [00:08:14] Awesome. And do you have any like specific personal anecdotes that maybe come up when you think about your relationship with friends that you'd like to share?

Leticia[00:08:28] What comes to mind is definitely there was one day that he had extra bread and donuts that just he couldn't get rid of at the at the church, and he came to the to the park branch and at one of the most busiest times of the day, which was after three o'clock when both schools were letting out. And and he came with like four or five big bags, garbage bags filled with a whole bunch of bread and donuts that he will say, We need to give this away. Can we give it away here? And and and he left some of the bags out in front of the branch while I was trying to set up a space for people to just as they walked in to take things. And and just the energy that he brought forth on that day was. Was adding to the energy that we always experience that three o'clock at the branch and that energy was prompted by us hearing the whistle of the of the crossing guard around 2:30 or 2:45 that we knew like, Oh, here it comes. And and everybody just knew to be ready because the branch was about to get filled up. And that afternoon, Celestino came and it was just like this whirlwind of activity that I was like, Okay, how do we get rid of this? Like, how do we support Celestino on wanting to also feed people? And then also at meetings, the meetings that we held regarding the park branch, the ones that we held at SAMA in the offices at SAMA and also in the park branch, he would walk in and he would always make sure to go to the key people who were at that meeting. And it was the mayor, he was going to look straight to the mayor, it with the head of the library, he was going to go straight to the CEO. You need to hear me. This is important and we need this. And that's just that was Celestino. Like, you knew exactly what his agenda was and he was not going to hide it. And he was not going to sugar coat what he wanted for the community.

Emeline[00:10:47] And then how do you think people or his legacy remains in Frog Hollow, or how people remember him?

Leticia[00:11:00] I think people remember him in that way, the strong advocate, the strong advocate that spoke his mind when he needed to speak his mind.

(Middle Audio)

Catherine[00:22:32]Yeah, I think so. Is there anything else you'd like to share? Just adding quickly about either of them or any other major figures that you think maybe we should look into?

Leticia[00:22:46] No, not right now, I think you guys are capturing good information there's and like the other figure that comes to mind more so because who is aligned with with this type of work in advocacy who made many strides for the betterment of the Puerto Rican community in Hartford, Edna Negron.I think you guys have heard of her as well. But yeah. Maria Sanchez and Celestino Jimenez, definitely Maria Sanchez, the with the people who organize the Puerto Rican day parade, it's because Maria Sanchez kind of just liked the importance of elevating the Puerto Rican community and its culture and what we were contributing to the city. And and that's how the Puerto Rican day parade also came about. So she she just did a lot and. And, Celestino Jimenez, in amore in a focused way, focused to frog hollow. Maria Sanchez more so locally to the city and also the state, and then and then Celestino in minutes more in a focused way and frog hollow. Because at that time when when Celestino Jimenez lived in Frog Hollow, the larger part of that of the Latino community Puerto Rican and still now. But there's a large mixture also of many Central Americans and Mexicans. But Celestino Jimenez kind of carries that torch specifically in profile for the Puerto Rican community.

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