LULAC Salutes Puerto Rican Trailblazer Herman Badillo

December 8, 2014

Paloma Zuleta
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Groundbreaking Latino leader was the first Puerto Rican Member of Congress and the first Latino Bronx Borough President

New York City – Funeral services for the first voting Puerto Rican member of Congress, Herman Badillo were held yesterday in New York City. His remarkable rise from an impoverished orphan in Caguas, P.R. to Bronx Borough President, four-term Congressman, city commissioner, Deputy Mayor and finally a trustee and board chairman of the City University of New York made Herman Badillo a trailblazing hero to Latinos across the country.

Known as a champion for education, civil rights, housing, and jobs, Badillo is credited with establishing the first bilingual education program and the first bilingual job training program in the nation as well as for reforming the City University of New York after many years of decline.

A brilliant mind, Badillo taught himself English and went on to graduate with high honors from City College in 1951 and from Brooklyn Law School as valedictorian in 1954 all while working as a dishwasher, bowling pinsetter, and accountant.

He was widely cited as the highest ranking Puerto Rican politician in the nation during his political career and he inspired a generation of Latino leaders to political activism and public service.

"It was an honor to have known Congressman Herman Badillo,” stated Ralina Cardona, LULAC National Vice President of the Northeast. “His leadership and dedication to the Latino community is unsurpassed. Today we mourn his passing and celebrate his legacy of exceptional service…he made all of us very proud.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit


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