NJ Hispanic Research & Information Center Newark Public Library


Fernando Luis Colon

Rev. Fernando Luis Colón, Jr., was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1932. He and his family moved to the mainland in 1948 to join his aunt's family in Jersey City, New Jersey. While attending Ferris High School, Rev. Colón began to work in a hat factory and would hand his entire check over to his father to assist with the down payment on a new home. Shortly after graduation, he began to work for the United States Postal Service, where he remained for the following 11.5 years. During the war on poverty, Rev. Colón served as Chair of the Education Committee, that advocated for a Hispanic to be appointed to the Department of Education. His community involvement was acknowledged by Mayor Paul T. Jordan who appointed Rev. Colón as mayor's aide in 1973. Following Mayor Jordan's suggestion, Rev. Colón ran and was elected as Freeholder of Hudson County in 1974. In an effort to increase voter registrations and the number of Hispanic candidates running for public office, he became a founding member of the Hispanic Democrats of Hudson County. He was elected as a Jersey City Councilman in 1993 and served for two terms. Currently, Rev. Colón is pastor of the Primera Iglesia Cristiana Circulo de Oración and Chairman of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority.
Prepared by Yesenia López, Archivist.


Hear Reverend Fernando Colón discuss why Mayor Whelan rejected a Puerto Rican appointment to the education committee:

Text of Audio Quote:
[Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see p. 25 of the complete interview transcript.]

"...entonces yo fuí nombrado el [presidente] del [comité de] educación. Bueno allí comenzamos a envolvernos con el sistema escolar [sin saber] que para tener un nombramiento dentro de la junta educacional de un hispano, el poder estaba en el alcalde. Él era [el] que recomendaba a los miembros de la junta de educación en aquel entonces. En una ocación tuvimos gente de la comunidad, y especialmente el comité mío de educación, [tuvimos] una visita con el alcalde Thomas Whelan que te mencioné... donde le pedimos, le pedíamos que nombrara a un puertorriqueño para la junta escolar. Bueno, él nos dijo—en aquel entonces y así muy [claro]— de que nosotros los puertorriqueños, hispanos—y yo digo puertorriqueños, porque los que estaban envuelto en ese centro eran puertorriqueños, okay—no éramos suficientemente fuertes en la política. En otras palabras, [que] nosotros no aportábamos al sistema por cuanto era una comunidad muy pequeña de puertorriqueños. Él sabía que nosotros podíamos votar, que no teníamos el problema que tienen nuestros hermanos. Pero como no est´bamos inscritos... pues, erámos un cero a la izquierda. Porque entonces darno [un miembro en el] board ...naturalmente, para nosotros, para mí que yo estaba mirando esto con una mente abierta, no política, entiende, me chocó."

For an extensive and specific list of peoples, places, organizations and topics discussed in this oral history, please see the Interview Transcript Index.

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