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Clip: Antonia Pantoja inspires a new generation of Puerto Ricans

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Antonia Pantoja
A film by Lillian Jiménez
2009, 53 minutes, Color, DVD, Spanish, English subtitles
Order No. W10984
Antonia Pantoja (1922-2002), visionary Puerto Rican educator, activist, and early proponent of bilingual education, inspired multiple generations of young people and fought for many of the rights that people take for granted today. Unbowed by obstacles she encountered as a black, Puerto Rican woman, she founded ASPIRA to empower Puerto Rican youth, and created other enduring leadership and advocacy organizations in New York and California, across the United States, and in Puerto Rico. Recognized for her achievements in 1996, Dr. Pantoja was awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon civilians in the US.

In this important documentary, Pantoja’s compelling story is told through never-before-seen home movies, archival footage, and personal passionate testimony from Pantoja herself and some of her countless protégés, as well as her life partner. Highlighting major landmarks in Pantoja’s biography and long, productive career, the film shows her profound commitment to transforming society, her pivotal role in the Puerto Rican community’s fight to combat racism and discrimination, and her pioneering work in securing a bilingual voice in the US. An eloquent tribute to a remarkable woman, the film sheds new light on the Puerto Rican community’s far-reaching triumphs.


  • New York International Latino Film Festival
  • San Diego Latino Film Festival
  • MOMA’s Annual Festival of NonFiction Film

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    “Exquisitely well crafted…Pantoja [is] fully present through this documentary—her strength, her vision, her charisma and passion.”
    Ingrid Betancourt
    Newark Public Library, New Jersey Hispanic Research & Information Center

    “Inspirational! An extremely useful documentary, not only for Puerto Rican scholars and activists, but also for anybody concerned with understanding social-justice struggles by culturally oppressed populations in the US.”
    Gladys M. Jiménez-Muñoz
    President, Puerto Rican Studies Assoc.

    “A valuable contribution to our understanding of social movements of the sixties, the Civil Rights Movement in New York, and Latino education.”
    Sonia Lee
    Asst. Professor, Dept. of History, Washington University in St. Louis

    “Exhibits a warmth and intelligence that leaves the viewer inspired and ever more committed to the struggle for the empowerment and progress of our communities.”
    Mario H. Ramírez
    Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College

    "Recommended...Educators can welcome this documentary for both its demonstration of the importance of education for social advancement, as well as its presentation of the challenges non-English speaking Americans face in society."
    Educational Media Reviews Online

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    Antonia Pantoja is included in the following Special Collections.
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    Visit the official website of the New York-based advocacy organization, ASPIRA, founded by Antonia Pantoja to develop the educational and leadership capacity of Hispanic youth.

    Wikipedia Entry on Antonia Pantoja

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