Jesus Colon's Biography

Jesús Colón was born on January 20,1901 in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Before leaving for the U.S., Colón, at 16 years of age, assumed the role of editor for a newspaper named Adelante at the Central Grammar School in San Juan. It is said that this is how his passionate writing career began. Colón had received little schooling in Puerto Rico and was considered to be a self-educated man. It was not until his arrival in the U.S. that he finished his secondary level of schooling as an adult. He was also involved in the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (1915) while in Puerto Rico.

Colón arrived in the U.S. in 1917 on a ship called the S.S. Carolina, which was heading for New York. From the beginning, Colón was involved in the Puerto Rican community through writing and politics. He became a founding member of the first New York Committee of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. In 1923, Colón became one of the New York correspondents for a newspaper called Justicia for the Federación Libre de Trabajadores in Puerto Rico. During this time he also wrote for several Spanish newspapers, including Gráfico, Pueblos hispanos, and for Liberación.

Outside his writing, Colón worked several menial jobs during different times of his life as a dishwasher, postal clerk, messenger, and waiter in order to earn a living. Being part of the working class, Colón empathized greatly with the needs of others in the same situation as himself. He began to help form organizations that aided Latinos who were caught in the struggle and who were hoping to survive financially and hoping to live their lives freely without the threat of racism lurking outside their doors. He helped found the Alianza Obrera Puertorriqueña e Hispana (1922), the Ateneo Obrero Hispano (1926), and the Liga Puertorriqueña e Hispana (1928). These organizations formed support systems for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos and were places where pertinent issues were addressed and a place where these people could help build community and a sense of togetherness.

Because of his political affiliations at the time and his involvement with the socialist labor movement, the Puerto Rican pro-independence groups, and with the Communist Parties, Colón was held under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy Era. Colón did not allow this to stop him and he continued fighting for his beliefs and writing about them as well. His literary work continued to flourish in publications like the The Daily Worker, The Worker, The Daily World and Mainstream.

Colón was a political activist who pushed for social change through his writing as well as through his active role within the community. Before his death in 1974, he had accomplished writing a history of the early Puerto Rican settlements in New York. He painted a vivid picture their lives and of himself through hundreds of both published and unpublished works. Some of these are captured in his first and only book called " A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches" (1961). Colón had intentions on producing another book, but died before he could accomplish this. Upon his death, his collection of papers were donated to the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College. Later some of these works were compiled by Edna Acosta-Belén and Virginia Sánchez Korrol to form a book called "The Way It Was and Other Writings" (1993).

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