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Josephine Nieves Interview, Tape 1



Date Created


Ms. Nieves discusses her upbringing in East Harlem and the Bronx (she includes her hardworking mother in the discussion). She talks about how she did not have much exposure to Puerto Rican culture while growing up. She begins interacting with Puerto Rican social activists as an adult when she was invited to a meeting of Puerto Rican organizers in the 1950s. The idea behind the group was to get people in their 20s to interact and discuss being second generation Puerto Rican with the purpose of forming a community. Ms. Nieves describes it as a “support friendship group” with the goal of making a contribution, having social purpose and forming cultural pride. The group is concerned with the negative Puerto Rican image and how the youth had internalized that negative image. Education of youth becomes focal point of the group, as well as fighting discrimination. As college-educated individuals, they feel that they need to give back to the community and address the lack of leadership/role models.

Ms. Nieves joined the "Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs" in 1954. Eventually their efforts evolve into the "Puerto Rican Youth Conference" which is the precursor of ASPIRA. Through trial, tribulations and learning experiences the group obtains a proposal through the "New York Foundation" to start ASPIRA. Ms. Nieves discusses the challenges and debates within the organization as it expands.; groups become fragmented and span into different organizations as priorities diverge.

Josephine Nieves was the first in her family to graduate from college. She obtained her master's degree in social work from Columbia University and her doctorate from Union Graduate School, Antioch University Consortium of Colleges and Universities. Ms. Nieves was also a Presidential appointee to the U.S. Department of Labor, where she was in charge of the Office of Job Training Programs. Prior to her assignment at the Department of Labor, Ms. Nieves worked for former New York Mayor David Dinkins and served as commissioner and spokesperson for the New York City Department of Employment.

Language: English




00:29:41 [Side A]
00:30:48 [Side B]




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Digital Format

Preservation file: 24-bit/96 kHZ uncompressed WAV file
Access file: MP3

Physical Format


Tape 1 of 2.