Freshman has connection to Library's Hip Hop Collection


Breakdancing legend Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon’s archives are in the Cornell Hip Hop Collection. He’s a member of the collection’s advisory board. And now he’s the proud dad of an incoming freshman, too.

“I wanted him to come here, but I never tried to pressure him, because he’s his own man,” Colon said of his son, Ritchie Colon-Peri '19. “I was happy after he made his decision. Him being close to it – it means something to me.”

Colon has been b-boying – the hip-hop term for breakdancing – since he was a Bronx teenager in hip-hop’s earliest days. He achieved fame in the 1980s with his group, the Rock Steady Crew. In 1983, he performed for Queen Elizabeth II, and appeared as a dancing double for Jennifer Beals in the movie “Flashdance.”

Colon-Peri, who is from New Jersey, hopes to major in economics. He first visited Cornell with his father last year, and said he was impressed by the beauty of the campus and the economics program. Even though his father’s archives did not factor into his decision to attend Cornell, he said, he’s glad to be close to them.

“It gives me a little bit of connection to the school, having something of my father here, and also a little bit of myself,” Colon-Peri said.

Colon-Peri and his family took time between orientation events last week to tour the library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections, where they viewed items ranging from a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln to Colon’s archive.

Colon – universally known as Crazy Legs, or simply as Legs – said he decided to place his archives with Cornell to preserve the history and continue the legacy of the hip-hop culture he helped create.

“As a Puerto Rican, I can only trace my history back to 1923, and my grandfather. Before that a lot of documents were destroyed. Keeping this here contributes to preserving the history of Puerto Ricans,” he said. “But one of the most important things to me was to have something that my son could see, something to go back to for him, and future generations.”

This story originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.