Puerto Rican Women Who Inspire Me

Being raised in a household where everything is about being Puerto Rican and what Puerto Rico is, you gain a lot of pride for being Boricua (Boricua is just another word for someone who is Puerto Rican). Boricuas are so prideful of where they come from, who they are, and what their culture is. The women on this list are from New York City because I was born and raised there so I heard a lot about them and it just inspired me even more to know that these women are just like me, doing extraordinary things. I love that for Women’s History Month I get to celebrate and educate others on these two very influential, important mujeres boricuas.

 

Dr. Evelina López Antonetty

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Born and raised in The Bronx, Dr. Antonetty was nicknamed the “Hell Lady of the Bronx” and “The Mother of Puerto Rican Community” because she was known to be extremely passionate and fierce when advocating for better education for marginalized communities in The Bronx and throughout the city in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Not only did she fight for the Puerto Rican community, but she fought for black and other highly oppressed people in New York City as well. Antonetty founded the United Bronx Parts, Inc. (a.k.a Padres Unidos del Bronx) to organize thousands of poor and working-class Boricuas and other minority parents to demand education be reformed and provide things that wealthier areas did not even have to ask for, such as bilingual and higher quality academic teaching that would be more responsive to the needs of minority students. Antonetty established P.S. 25, the first fully Spanish-English bilingual school in New York City in 1969. Dr. Antonetty helped people in low-income situations realize that their economic status did not mean they did not deserve a better education that ultimately could help their kids make a better life for themselves. She made them realize their worth and made it known that parents of color who come from poor neighborhoods are not going to allow their kids to be treated like they were, and that their kids deserve the same education as kids who come from well-off backgrounds.

 

Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías

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Trias was also born and raised in The Bronx, but earned her M.D. at the University of Puerto Rico. She established the first center of care for newborn babies in 1960 while she was doing her residency in Puerto Rico within just three years. She went on to obtain the head of pediatrics position at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx in the 1970s. Dr. Trias was very active in the Puerto Rican movement all while still going back to school, graduating with highest honors, and giving birth to her fourth child. She was not just doing that though, she was also an educator and a major advocate for women and children when it came to their health. In 1970, Dr. Trias was a founding member of the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse and in 1979 founded the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse. Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias received the Presidential Citizens Medal for all her hard work that women, children, the poor, and people with HIV and AIDS benefited from.

 

These two women are literally phenomenal and deserve so much more recognition. They paved the way for so many other Boricua (and any other minority for that matter) women and showed the world that it does not matter if you did not grow up with money or that nobody else in your family did the same thing as you. They still came out on top and are remembered for being exceptional.