‘Literary icon’: Sandra Cisneros to headline Brownsville Planned Parenthood brunch

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Sandra Cisneros

Planned Parenthood South Texas (PPST) has landed a true literary icon as keynote speaker for the nonprofit organization’s Annual Valley Brunch in Brownsville on Sunday.

Sandra Cisneros, an internationally known writer and poet whose novel “The House on Mango Street” is required reading in high school and college classrooms across the country, will speak at 11:45 a.m. during the fundraiser, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at Venizzia the Venue, 5 Event Center Blvd.

Considered a modern coming-of-age classic, “The House on Mango Street,” about a 12-year-old Chicana girl growing up in Chicago’s Hispanic quarter, has sold more than 6 million copies since first being published.

Cisneros, a Chicago native widely known for exploring issues of race, class and gender through her novels, short stories and poetry, has won a number of prestigious awards and fellowships, including the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Awards, the PEN America Literary Award, National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship.

Cisneros has also been recognized with the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Fuller Award for lifetime achievement and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature

President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts in 2016, recognizing Cisneros for “enriching the American narrative” and commenting that “as an educator, she has deepened our understanding of American identity.”

She also fosters the careers of aspiring and emerging writers through two nonprofits she founded: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. Cisneros resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and writes for a living.

The Valley Brunch will also feature an exhibit highlighting Hispanic culture, identity and femininity curated by The Flower Shop Art Residency, a program of the nonprofit organization Frontera Arts in Bloom, which said the exhibit will “pay homage to the legacy of Sandra Cisneros and highlight Planned Parenthood’s mission of self-advocacy.”

All proceeds from the brunch will support Planned Parenthood health centers in Brownsville and Harlingen. In the last five years those centers have provided 21,086 clinic visits, 31,921 units of birth control, 30,792 tests for sexually transmitted infection, 4,569 cervical cancer screenings, 9,140 pelvic exams and 4,424 clinical breast exams.

In addition to direct health services, Planned Parenthood’s team of bilingual “promotoras” educates the community about sexual and reproductive health care, reaching more than 12,000 Valley residents last year alone, according to the organization.

Valley Brunch doors open at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Remarks by Laura Terrill, PPST president and CEO, Nubia Reyna and Luna Cisneros of PPST, and Laura Carmona, educator, will precede the keynote speaker.

Tickets to the event are $100 per individual, or $25 per student. Tables are $1,500, $2,500 and $5,000.

A limited number of tickets are still available online at plannedparenthood.org, or by emailing [email protected].