Evelina López Antonetty was known by some as the Mother of the Puerto Rican Community, and by others as the Hell Lady of the Bronx. Her fierce advocacy on behalf of improving education for marginalized communities in the South Bronx and across New York City throughout the '60s and '70s gained her many adoring devotees and a fair share of political adversaries. Yet before Antonetty assumed the role of well-known community organizer and leader of the United Bronx Parents (UBP), Inc., she spent her high school years at Wadleigh, Harlem's high school for girls.
This exhibit adds to the rich history of Harlem by tracing the life journey of one of its more well-known Puerto Rican residents. Antonetty’s life, from its beginnings in Puerto Rico, to East and Central Harlem, and on to the South Bronx, offers an illuminating view into many of the major themes in Harlem's educational history throughout the twentieth century.
Most importantly, this interactive timeline encourages visitors to consider how Wadleigh, just like Harlem, never existed in a neatly dichotomous black and white world, but one in which Puerto Ricans and other Latinos living in El Barrio interacted with the African American and Afro-Caribbean community in Central Harlem, often sharing blocks, buses, books, and blackboards in an ever-fluid and dynamic urban ecosystem--both before and after the peak years of postwar Puerto Rican migration.
Follow Evelina on her journey through space and time, beginning with her childhood in Puerto Rico and ending with her legacy. Engage with the narrative, an array of primary sources, and use the discussion questions at the end of each section to relate Evelina's story to your own.