Piri Thomas 1928-2011

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Puerto Rican/Cuban author Juan Pedro “Piri” Thomas died Monday, October 17th of pneumonia in his home in El Cerrito, California. He is survived by his wife, six children, and three stepchildren.

Though he passed away living in California, Thomas is best known for the work he did in New York. After growing up a black Hispanic in New York’s barrios, Thomas struggled with racial discrimination, drug use and gang violence in his use before spending six years behind bars and vowing to leave all that behind. He became influential in the Nuyorican movement, and published his most famous work Down These Mean Streets in 1967, a reflection on his life and experience. It has been in continuous print for forty-three years.