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Published On: Tue, Nov 10th, 2009

On the Passing of Dr. Hilda Hidalgo

Mi Gente…

Here is a message I just received about the passing of one of our community "sheroes". I want to thank Nancy Mercado for sending this to me via Facebook. I had the opportunity to meet her once during the Latino Howard Beach trial back in 1987, from all accounts she was a true advocate for the people.

Here is the official statement released by  historian Olga J. Wagenheim, PhD.

As I am,

George Torres
The Urban Jibaro

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Que en paz descanse….

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Dr. Hilda Hidalgo, Community Activist, Rutgers Professor Emerita at Rutgers University, Co-Founder of Aspira Inc. of NJ, La Casa de Don Pedro, the Puerto Rican Congress, United Community Foundation, Newark Urban League, United Community Corporation and mentor.

Below is an introduction written about Dr. Hilda Hidalgo.

Hilda Hidalgo, a native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico,
a woman, a lesbian, a professor, and one of the greatest persons I have
had the privilege to know, spent more than three decades working
tirelessly to improve the lives of others in New Jersey. She began her career in Newark as District Director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex
in 1960, where she spent five years, and then another five as Director
of Child Services. Hilda taught at Rutgers University for 23 years,
first in the School of Social Work in New Brunswick and then in the Public Administration
Department at Rutgers Newark. Her last job (1994-95) before fully
retiring from paid employment was Assistant Commissioner of Education
for the State of New Jersey.

But while Hilda’s career has been impressive, what distinguishes her
most in our eyes is her concern for others and her record of civic
works. During her years in Newark, Hilda co-founded and presided over
Aspira of New Jersey, La Casa de Don Pedro and the Puerto Rican
Congress, three institutions that have in turn shaped and/or touched
the lives of thousands of individuals in New Jersey. In addition to
these organizations, Hilda was co-founder and Board member of the
United Community Foundation, Newark Urban League and United Community
Corporation. She also chaired the 1st Puerto Rican Convention of NJ and
served as Vice-President of the New Jersey Chapter of the National
Association of Social Workers.

As a Rutgers professor, Hilda created a Masters Program in Public
Administration in order to help Hispanic professionals to obtain a
graduate degree while continuing to work full-time. Many of that
program’s graduates have gone on to touch many lives as well. Like
Hilda, they subscribe to Marian Wright Edelman’s philosophy, which
holds that "material gifts bring with them the privilege and
responsibility of sharing with the less fortunate…"

Committed to a life of purpose, Hilda is at present an active member
of Equality Florida and Friends of Wild Iris, organizations that fight
for the rights of Gays and Lesbians. When asked why she is still
volunteering, she replied: "because my strength comes from my
association with others who share my passion and commitment to
eradicate the oppression of others because of their race, ethnicity,
class or sexual orientation."

Written by historian Olga J. Wagenheim, PhD.

Dr.
Hilda Hidalgo, Community Activist, Rutgers Professor Emerita at Rutgers
University, Co-Founder of Aspira Inc. of NJ, La Casa de Don Pedro, the
Puerto Rican Congress, United Community Foundation, Newark Urban League
and the United Community Corporation

On the Passing of Dr. Hilda Hidalgo