David Gonzalez is a journalist and photographer whose career at the New York Times spans from The About New York column to covering Central America and the Caribbean. He is currently working closely with Metro desk photographers and visual editors on a variety of projects.
Since arriving at the Times in 1990 from Newsweek Magazine – where he had been a national correspondent in Detroit and Miami – he has served as the Times’ Bronx Bureau Chief, Metro Religion writer, About New York columnist and the Central America/Caribbean Bureau Chief. He wrote the biweekly “Citywide” feature column, as well as having published a year-long look at the life of an undocumented family in New York City. As a long-time member of the Metro desk of The New York Times, his work has often focused on the city’s neighborhoods and how they reflect the larger social and cultural issues in American society.
As Central America/Caribbean Bureau Chief, he reported often from Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Among his stories were in-depth reports on overdevelopment in Central American cities, AIDS in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s ongoing political and social crises and the fight against impunity in post-war Guatemala.
As co-editor of the Times’ popular Lens blog, he has highlighted the work of Latino and Latin American photographers like Pablo Delano, Daniel Hernandez-Salazar and Frank Espada, as well as featuring up and coming photojournalists here and abroad.
In more recent years, he returned to his photographic roots as a founding member of Los Seis del Sur, a collective of Nuyorican photographers who documented the South Bronx in the 1980s. The group had a highly successful exhibit at the Bronx Documentary Center in January of 2013, accompanied by several panels on issues ranging from the borough’s legacy of social activism to the role of the arts in the community. The collective followed that up with “Sin Limites” in 2014 at the Bronx Music Heritage Center and “Barrios” in 2016 at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I Center. He is also included in the traveling group show “Whose Streets, Our Streets,” which documented 1980’s activism in New York City.
His prizes include a 2008 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors for “House Afire,” a groundbreaking three-part series on the life of a struggling Pentecostal storefront church, which was accompanied by an online component that marked the Times’ first foray into bilingual multimedia. His feature writing has been honored twice by Columbia University’s Workshops on Race and Ethnicity. He also was awarded Columbia University’s Mike Berger Award in May 1992 for his coverage of New York City and its neighborhoods. In 2013, he was inducted in the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In 2018 he was awarded the Alumni Prize from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
About: The Dancers
The Dancers is probably my best-known image, yet it sat in my archives – unseen – for 30 years. I was working at En Foco after graduating from Yale, and had gone to a street fair in Mott Haven with Rafael Ramírez to put up a Street Gallery on August 10, 1979 (my 22 birthday). While we were there, a salsa band started playing, and a couple started dancing. I shot two frames of them. And then I forgot about the image.
Thirty years later, I started scanning my old negatives, when I came across the image. Mind you, I had printed other shots from that day, but not this one. Of the two frames, one had them where I could see both of the dancers. It ran with a cover story and slide show I did for the Times’ Metropolitan section in late August 2009. The reaction to it was strong and immediate.
To me, this image speaks of a lot of things, especially given what was happening in the Bronx at the time. Here we have a couple, dressed to the nines, dancing in the streets when the outside world saw the South Bronx as irredeemable. Yet there, embracing and dancing to the soundtrack of an unseen band, they remind us how our roots, our culture, nourishes our souls.