Acting legend Rita Moreno performed an incredibly moving reading of Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” at Boston Pops’s July Fourth fireworks event on Wednesday.
The 86-year-old EGOT winner was backed by the Boston Pops Orchestra as she took to the stage and described her reaction to seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time.
“It seemed as if she was a vision from heaven and it’s been with me ever since,” the Puerto Rican actress said before launching into the iconic sonnet inscribed on the statue’s pedestal.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” Moreno read. “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Moreno’s reading was especially powerful given the current controversies surrounding the Trump administration’s immigration policies. As the protests against family separation at the border continue, the poem was a reminder of the beliefs and ideals America was built on.
The night wasn’t through there, as Moreno, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1962 film version of “West Side Story,” joined Natalie Cortez for a performance of “America,” one of the songs from the hit musical.
See more in the videos above.