02 December 2016

Pedro Albizu Campos – Harvard Law 1921

War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis, 2015, Excerpts

Albizu was born out of wedlock to a local mestizo named Julian Campos, who died when he was four. His father was a wealthy merchant who refused to acknowledge his dark-skinned son, so Albizu ran barefoot through the Barrio Tenerias of Ponce. His maternal Aunt, Rosa Campos, adopted him.

In 1914, Pedro Albizu Campos became the first Puerto Rican to be admitted to Harvard College. In addition to his Harvard studies, Albizu taught Spanish classes at Walpole High School and tutored other Harvard students in chemistry, French, and Spanish. He wrote articles for the Christian Science Monitor and was voted president of the Cosmopolitan Club, which sponsored visits from foreign scholars and dignitaries. An exceptional student, he graduated with honors in 1916 and was admitted to Harvard Law School.

When the United States entered WWI, Albizu volunteered and served as a first lieutenant in the US Army. He helped to organize and train the Third Battalion Infantry of Puerto Rico and was the only “colored” officer at Camp las Casas, the army training base on the island. Both in the army and during a military tour through the American South, Albizu encountered widespread racism.

By the time he returned to law school in 1919, Albizu had made a decision, he would never be one of ”them.” The United States would never take him, his people, or his homeland seriously. Albizu devoted himself to the cause of Puerto Rican independence.

In 1921, Albizu graduated from law school as class valedictorian and received multiple job offers. Albizu refused them all and returned to his hometown of Ponce to pursue his growing obsession: the independence of Puerto Rico.

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