Dr. William K. Barth
Judge Diaz’s book serves as an inspiration for all readers about how individuals can overcome adversity to attain the full expression of their personality. Diaz describes not only how he achieved his professional and political accomplishments but also how he fought back against discrimination in all forms by forming coalitions with African Americans, Jewry, Latinos and other subjugated minority groups.
Nelson Diaz doesn’t consider himself a radical. A graduate of St. John’s University, he has worn the mantles of corporate board director, judge, chief city attorney, White House Fellow and federal appointee. Yet as the son of a single mother from Puerto Rico and former Harlem gang member, he says he carries a burden to lift minority professionals, an obligation that gives him candor when others might opt for gentility.
Those former students include Nelson A. Díaz, J.D., ’67AAS, ’69BS, who became Pennsylvania’ s youngest, and first Latino, judge. When Mr. Díaz, who later became the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s General Counsel.
Alumnus Talks a Lifetime of Being the ‘First Latino to…’
By: Angélica Acevedo
The book, which was published last year by the Temple University Press, is about more than just the remarkable story of his admirable career serving underrepresented communities and advocating for Latino representation in the government, with the constant support from his family, friends and mentors. It is a story about the hard work that led him to where he is today, coupled with a feeling all too familiar to many first generation Puerto Ricans and other minority groups in the U.S.
The Philadelphia Lawyer
Gem Among Us
By David I. Grunfeld
This memoir by Philadelphia Lawyer Nelson Diaz transcends the usual fare, is a fascinating read on many levels and is absolutely inspiring. His memory is exhaustive, his appreciation of American democracy is strong, his efforts on behalf of all minorities are powerful and his devotion to Philadelphia, his adopted city, is amazing.
Díaz said he wants his book, which Temple University Press published in September, to teach people not to give up. At age 15, he couldn’t read or write proficiently in English and experienced poverty and violence in West Harlem. Díaz’s mother and his community helped him focus on school. His grades improved, and he got accepted to St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he graduated with honors in 1969.
Community activist, public advocate and former Judge Nelson Diaz talks about his new book "Not From Here, Not From There", an autobiography of the man who blazed a trail for Latinos in Philadelphia and has spent most of his life advocating for civil and human rights. Listen to the interview here.
Broad Street Review
The First, And Not The Last
By Pamela J. Forsythe
Diaz’s commitment to housing, education, and equal opportunity propelled him through positions as advocate, lawyer, and jurist. In the 1970s, to gain a national perspective on the issues he cared about, Díaz applied for a White House Fellowship and worked in the office of Vice President Walter Mondale. Almost two decades later, he served as general counsel in the Department of Housing and Urban Development at the request of HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros.
Nelson Díaz on a lifetime of being ‘the first Latino’
By John Timpane
True to his book's title, Díaz stresses the doubleness of being Puerto Rican American. "As a Latino," he writes, "I am several things at once. Being not any one thing makes identity a difficult thing to hold onto. … I am a stranger in my own country and a citizen of an island where I have never lived. I have never been truly at home or accepted in either place."
“Nelson Díaz was exactly what a White House Fellow should be: smart, dedicated, and a true believer in public service. We worked together on bilingual education and employment, and his advocacy for fellow Latino voices at the highest levels of government helped usher in a change in national politics. As Not from Here, Not from There/No Soy de Aquí ni de Allá shows, he has spent a lifetime making the most of his chances and has blazed a trail for countless others to follow.”
—Vice President Walter F. Mondale
“Nelson Díaz has written a powerful and engrossing memoir of outstanding leadership, courage, and resiliency. Filled with practical advice backed by fascinating and inspiring personal lessons, victories, and challenges, this book is truly a gem—a smart read for everyone: the general public and leaders alike. An easy-to-read, invaluable resource that’s packed with insight, Not from Here, Not from There provides a solid road map for all leaders who want to better serve their communities.”
—Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy, Rutgers University–Camden
“Although it was fifty years ago, I still recall the personality, character, and ambition of Nelson Díaz as an aspiring accounting student. I knew a bit about his background and followed some of his career, but his autobiography’s inspiring portrayal of the struggles he experienced and the determination he exhibited in reaching his goals truly impressed me. This book is a valuable read for all young people, but especially for children of immigrants and for aspiring Latino and African American youth.”
—John P. Clarke, Chair and Professor, Department of Law, Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John's University, New York
Reading the life story of our good friend, Nelson A Diaz, and then having the opportunity to listen to his detailed experiences firsthand was priceless. His ability to overcome life obstacles and still positively impact the NYC/Philly Puerto Rican community, is an example for everyone on keeping the faith & moving forward. His book, “Not from here Not from there/No soy de aquí Ni de allá,” is an important personal history that describes the migration of Puerto Ricans in the 50’s-60’s.