Lourdes Torres Papers
Scope and Contents
This collection is important for examining the struggles for civil rights of the Puerto Rican community in New York, the history of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and the Committee Against Fort Apache. There is also information about bilingual education, and other organizations committed to civil rights goals.
The folders are alphabetical and the materials are organized in chronological order. The types of materials included are reports, flyers, letters and memoranda, press releases and news clippings as well as photographs.
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1970s-1990s
- Creation: 1967-2000
Conditions Governing Access
Open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
Lourdes Torres is a community activist from the South Bronx area of New York City. She was active in numerous organizations including Union Estudiantil Pedro Albizu Campos (Pedro Albizu Campos Student Union), the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and the Committee Against Fort Apache. Currently she is the Director of the Office of Development and Grants Administration at Hostos Community College.
Torres was born on August 2, 1953, the fifth of seven children of Clorinda Valentín and Joaquín Torres Rivera who migrated to New York from Puerto Rico in the 1930s. Despite limited economic resources, her parents sent her to Catholic schools believing that this would give her a more solid education. From first to eighth grade, Torres attended St. Athanasius (1959-1964) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1964-1967) in the Bronx. When she started high school in the ninth grade, she received a scholarship to an all girls school, the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Manhattan (1967-1971). In her second year, she lost the scholarship and had to work in order to pay for tuition. At this point in her adolescent years, she formed a club of Latina students and began to more consciously identify herself as Puerto Rican. She also participated in meetings of ASPIRA that motivated her to pursue a college education and to develop personal goals. Torres was also inspired by the Young Lords Organization and although she was never a member, she learned from them to take pride in her Puerto Rican heritage.
In 1971, Torres entered Queens College for an undergraduate degree. It was during her college years that she became involved with the Unión Estudiantil Pedro Albizu Campos, an organization which aimed to unite Puerto Rican students through educational programs and conferences. Torres graduated in the spring of 1976 with a BA in Education and Linguistics.
It was in the summer of 1976 that she made a first and memorable trip to Puerto Rico. Upon her return to New York, she worked as a public school teacher for six months, but was dismissed due to the fiscal crisis in New York City and the lack of funds for her position. From 1977 to 1980 she taught classes on bilingual education and the Puerto Rican child in the Department of Puerto Rican Studies at Queens College. From 1977 to 1978 she completed a Masters degree in Bilingual Education at St. John’s University.
As a community activist, Lourdes Torres played a leading role in several civil rights organizations. In 1981 she became active in the Committee Against Fort Apache which was created in protest to the film Fort Apache: the Bronx. The film, a negative portrayal of the South Bronx community, is filled with racist overtones. Around this same period, Torres joined an organizing committee for the creation of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, which became an important civil rights organization. She served as National Secretary, and as coordinator of the Puerto Rico chapter and the New York council.
During the 1980s, Torres worked for various institutions. She worked as a curator for the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1980-1982) and was a teacher trainer for the National Origins Desegregation Center (1982-1986) and for the Early Childhood Bilingual Multicultural Resource Center (1982-1986). Since 1987 she has been working at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York and has occupied the following positions: Director of the Office of Community and Continuing Education and the Adult Basic Education Program (1987-1997), Special Assistant to the President (1987-1992), lecturer in the Department of Health and Human Services (1992-1995) and more recently as the Director of the Office of Development and Grants Administration.
Lourdes Torres’ papers complement the papers of Diana Caballero and Luis O. Reyes. They were all active in language rights and educational reform as well as in key civil rights organizations. Torres was part of an important generation of community leaders and her papers are a good resource for understanding the role of Puerto Rican activists in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.
7.13 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
Community activist, educator and organizer. Resource for understanding the role of Puerto Rican activists in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, for examining the struggles for civil rights of the Puerto Rican community in New York, the history of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and the Committee Against Fort Apache. Included are reports, flyers, letters and memoranda, press releases and news clippings, as well as photographs.
The collection is divided into the following series:
I. Biographical and Personal Information II. Correspondence III. Notes IV. The National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights V. The Committee Against Fort Apache VI. Rafael Rivera García VII. Organizations VIII. Subject Files IX. Clippings X. Photographs
Other Finding Aids
English / Spanish finding aid available (see External Documents).
- Caballero, Diana (Person)
- Antonetty, Evelina, 1922-1984 (Person)
- Pérez, Richie (Person)
- Quiñones, Nathan (Person)
- Rodríguez-Trias, Helen (Person)
- Serrano, José E. (José Enrique), 1943- (Person)
- Velázquez, Nydia (Person)
- Black and Latino Coalition Against Police Brutality (Organization)
- City University of New York (Organization)
- Committee Against Fort Apache (Organization)
- National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights (Organization)
- Young Lords Party (Organization)
- Rivera García, Rafael (Person)
- Puerto Rican Council on Higher Education (Organization)
- Organizations and Leaders
- Puerto Rican women -- New York (State) -- New York
- Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Social conditions
- Puerto Ricans in New York City
- Advertising fliers
- Birth control -- United States
- Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
- Corporation reports
- Education -- New York (State) -- New York
- Education, Bilingual -- New York (State) -- New York
- Education, Higher--New York (State)
- English-only movement
- Hispanic Americans -- Education -- New York (State) -- New York
- Human rights
- Language and Culture
- Language and education
- Language policy
- Language policy
- Migrant labor
- Multicultural education -- New York (State) -- New York
- Police brutality -- New York (State) -- New York
- Puerto Ricans -- Education -- New York (State) -- New York
- Social Reform
- Sterilization (Birth control)
- Sterilization of women
- Lourdes Torres Papers
- Ismael García with the assistance of Izzy De Moya, Damary González, Myrna Tinoco, and Noelia Urbano
- March 2003
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Processed with a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Funding was also provided by a congressional directed initiative sponsored by Congressman José Serrano and administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
- 2005: Guide was revised by Pedro Juan Hernández and Nélida Pérez.