A Builder of Institutions (1950–1960)
When I entered Hunter College to complete my baccalaureate degree, I began to seek new social and personal connections that would replace the loss of my community of artist friends. During those years, Hunter College provided little in the way of experiences with other Puerto Ricans. I joined the European Club, but, unlike the people that I had met in the artists’ circles, these students were, in my opinion, elitists and insensitive to issues of race and gender. I can remember a very strong argument with a German Jewish girl who considered herself an intellectual. She insisted that women had made “no contribution to the advances of the human race.” I became so furious by such a ridiculous statement and many others that I finally left the group. I was feeling isolated and without any social connections. Helen and I continued to have friends for dinner, but a void existed for me.
At school one day, I met Maggie Miranda who was in my sociology class. This was a class that I enjoyed in which I would argue with the professor and challenge many of his statements. I connected with Maggie because she was a Puerto Rican. We became friends, and through Maggie I was introduced to the Spanish Club. Here again, I found myself out of place and with people with whom I had little in common. Maggie knew other Puerto Rican students, and I suggested that we meet with them. One by one, we met each other in my apartment. When the group became too big, we secured a room at the Good Neighbor Community Center on 106th Street in East Harlem.