Latinx Leaders

Yohel Camayd-Freixas

Yoel Camayd-Freixas was a social psychologist, educator, and community activist for Latino communities in Boston and Miami. Born in Cuba, he lived the majority of his life in Boston, Massachusetts and Miami, Florida. He earned a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Boston College in 1982. He subsequently worked for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Public Schools, and Boston Urban Research and Development Group, and helped to found La Alianza Hispana, the Jamaica Plain Outreach Team, and YCF Associates during the 1980s. In each organization, Camayd-Freixas dedicated himself to issues of mental health, education, teen smoking, and housing services that challenged the Latino community and other minority populations. From 1990 to 1991, Camayd-Freixas worked for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation before beginning his own consulting firm, the Camayd Group, in Miami. As a consultant, Camayd-Freixas focused on applied research, corporate distress relief, and community development. In 2002, he joined Southern New Hampshire University as professor and Associate Dean of the School of Community Economic Development. Camayd-Freixas died April 28, 2011 in Miami at the age of 62.

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Frieda Garcia

Frieda Garcia is a Hispanic activist and community leader in Boston. Garcia moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic at eight years old. After earning a Bachelor’s from The New School of Social Research in 1964, she moved to Boston to find work as a social worker. She found work under Hubie Jones as a mentor at the Roxbury Multi-Service Center. A few years later, in 1969, Jones urged her to become a part of new Hispanic-focused organization forming. Garcia became the first director of La Alianza Hispana, an organization dedicated to the needs of lower income Hispanic families. In 1981 Garcia became the director of United South End Settlements. During her twenty year tenure at United South End Settlements she spearheaded programs centered on housing, literacy and job training. She recognized a need and opened the first open-access computer center in the city of Boston. She retired from United South End Settlements in 2001. Outside of her professional work, Garcia has served on seventy boards for organizations such as The Boston Foundation, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Hispanic Office of Planning and Evaluation.

Please note that this collection is currently unprocessed.

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Carmen Pola

Carmen A. Pola was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, in 1939. In 1955 she moved to the continental United States with her family, settling briefly in the Bronx, New York, before moving to Oakland, California, where the family worked in agriculture. In 1960 she married Juan Pola, with whom she would have five children. While in California, Pola became involved in community activism, participating in a number of grassroots organizations concerned with education and youth activism, including La Raza Educators and young Catholic Workers. In 1972, the Pola family relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, settling in the neighborhood of Mission Hill. Pola quickly became involved in community activism, helping to organize tenants in Mission Hill and coordinating a class action lawsuit, Perez v. Boston Housing Authority, to force the City to comply with existing sanitary codes. She was also one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the Parent's Committee for Defense of Bilingual Education (Comité de Padres pro Defensa del la Educación Bilingüe), Morgan v. Kerrigan, in response to desegregation policies that threatened the viability of bilingual education programs in the Boston Public Schools. In 1975 she was coordinator of the Festival Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Festival), held annually in Boston since 1967. From 1977 to 1980, Pola was the coordinator of the Community District I Advisory Council (CDAC), part of the Citywide Parents Advisory Council (CPAC), Inc., which operated from 1974-2004 under the court-mandated desegregation of Boston Public Schools (Morgan v. Hennigan). These councils operated at the city-wide (CPAC), district (CDAC), and school (Racial Ethnic Parent Councils (REPC)) levels. Pola was also involved in the Bilingual Masters Parents Advisory Council which oversaw the implementation of the Voluntary Lau Compliance Plan, a 1979 agreement that outlined the responsibilities of the Boston Public Schools in providing education to bilingual students.

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Nelson Merced

Nelson Merced, a Latino politician and activist, was born in New York City in 1948. Merced first became politically active in Puerto Rico in the early 1970s, working with squatters in San Juan. He moved back to the United States to attend the University of Connecticut, graduating with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. He did graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, held positions at La Alianza Hispana and the Boston Public Facilities Department, and returned to politics in 1988 as a candidate from the 5th Suffolk district in Boston. This collection focuses on his political career as the first Latino candidate elected to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives. Merced held his seat from his election in 1988 until 1992. After leaving the State House, Merced worked for Inquilinos Boricuas En Accion, YouthBuild America, and, most recently, NeighborWorks America. The collection documents Nelson Merced’s public service from 1989-2003.

Please note that this collection is currently unprocessed.

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