Project

Document and Image Selection

The documents, images, and posters in this digital collection were selected from the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records and the La Alianza Hispana records held in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department. They represent roughly 7.9% of the La Alianza Hispana records and 21.5% of the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records. All of the photographs, negatives, and contact sheets from both collections were scanned and span from 1965-2001. The images document the two organizations’ staff, properties, departments, programs for youths and the elderly, and events including Festival Betances, an annual Latino cultural festival in Boston’s South End, and Three Kings Day (or “El Día de los Reyes”), a religious holiday to commemorate the gifts delivered to Jesus by the Three Wise Men.

The documents scanned from the collection include organizational charts and histories, committee and taskforce meeting minutes, fact sheets, by-laws, articles of incorporation, annual reports, program descriptions and brochures, newsletters, and organizational reports. These records available in this online collection document public policy formation, community relations, affordable housing, urban planning and housing rehabilitation, cultural and educational programming, violence prevention, and minority rights during the last decades of the 20th century. Researchers are encouraged to view the La Alianza Hipana and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción finding aids online or to visit the Archives and Special Collections Department to access the rest of the collections.

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción

One of the ethnic groups that migrated to Boston during the 1940s and 50s was Puerto Ricans, many of whom found affordable housing in the South End. By the 1960s, the neighborhood was home to 2,000 Puerto Ricans. In 1965, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) adopted the South End Urban Renewal Plan which was intended to revitalize an area called Parcel 19 by tearing down existing housing and replacing it with housing that current residents would be unable to afford. Additionally, the plan did not include relocation housing for residents who were displaced. In response to the BRA’s plan, several residents and activists, among them Israel Feliciano, Rev. William Dwyer, Helen Morton and Phil Bradley, organized Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), the Puerto Rican Tenants Association. Their motto was “No nos mudaremos de la parcela 19 (We will not be moved from Parcel 19).” In 1968, the group incorporated under the name Emergency Tenant’s Council of Parcel 19, Inc. (ETC) to develop and build affordable housing and to provide services to impart to residents the skills to control this housing.

In 1969 after submitting an alternative development plan to the BRA, ETC was appointed the sponsor-developer of Parcel 19. Villa Victoria, the resulting development was designed as the result of collaboration among residents, community leaders, and architect John Sharratt whose visit to Puerto Rico also informed the design. Villa Victoria became a model of citizen participation in urban renewal for other housing developments across the country. In 1974, the Arte y Cultura Department was established and Myrna Vasquez, a prominent actress and activist from Puerto Rico, created the Areyto Program. Areyto was based on the philosophy that the arts can empower people by teaching them about their cultural heritage, building community, and providing youth with the opportunity to express themselves through performing and creating. One of its most significant contributions was the organization of celebrations unique to Puerto Rican culture, such as the Three Kings Festival and Festival Betances. In 1978, parents living in Villa Victoria opened Escuelita Agüeybana, the first bilingual day care center in Massachusetts, and in 1980 IBA founded the Villa Victoria Community Center (later renamed the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center), the first Hispanic community center in New England. IBA provides services for youth, families, adults, and the elderly through community organizing, educational, civic, cultural, and peer leadership programs. ETC Development Corporation, IBA’s for profit affiliate, continues to develop new affordable housing in Boston’s neighborhoods.

La Alianza Hispana

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Latino community of Boston became very active in the city’s civic, social, and political realms. Primarily residing in the South End, Roxbury, and Dorchester, Latinos began organizing to advocate for their civil rights and access to social services. La Alianza Hispana (LAH), the first Latino organization in Boston, was begun in 1968 by Ana Maria Rodríguez, a teacher in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Noticing the impoverished conditions of her Latino students, Rodríguez, along with fellow teacher Betsy Tregar, started meeting in Roxbury with Latino parents to address their needs. The group they formed was known as the Spanish Alliance. In 1969 Frieda Garcia, an outreach worker to the Latino community who worked for the Roxbury Multi-Service Center (RMSC), a social service agency primarily serving the African American community, learned about the Spanish Alliance and brought it to the attention of Hubie Jones who headed RMSC. With support from RMSC for a separate Latino-run organization, LAH incorporated in 1970 to address the most pressing needs of the Latino community of Roxbury and North Dorchester: education and employment training, and housing. La Alianza Hispana continues to serve the Latino community and expanded its programs to include public health, family counseling, youth development, elder services, and community empowerment.