Pedro A. CamposPedro Albizu Cam­pos (Sep­tem­ber 12, 1891 – April 21, 1965) was a Puer­to Rican attor­ney and politi­cian, and the lead­ing fig­ure in the Puer­to Rican inde­pen­dence move­ment. Gift­ed in lan­guages, he spoke six and was the first Puer­to Rican to grad­u­ate from Har­vard Law School.

Albizu Cam­pos was the pres­i­dent and spokesper­son of the Puer­to Rican Nation­al­ist Par­ty from 1930 until his death in 1965. Because of his ora­tor­i­cal skill, he was hailed as El Mae­stro (The Teacher). He was impris­oned 26 years for attempt­ing to over­throw the U.S. gov­ern­ment in Puer­to Rico.

In 1950 he planned and called for armed upris­ings in sev­er­al cities in Puer­to Rico on behalf of inde­pen­dence. After­ward he was con­vict­ed and impris­oned again. He died in 1965 short­ly after his par­don and release from fed­er­al prison, some time after suf­fer­ing a stroke. There is con­tro­ver­sy over his med­ical treat­ment in prison.

Albizu Cam­pos was born in the Ten­erías sec­tor of Bar­rio Machue­lo Aba­jo in Ponce, Puer­to Rico to Ale­jan­dro Albizu Romero, known as “El Viz­caíno,” was a Basque mer­chant, and Jua­na Cam­pos, a woman of Span­ish, African and Taino ances­try, on 12 Sep­tem­ber 1891. From an edu­cat­ed fam­i­ly, Albizu was the nephew of the dan­za com­pos­er Juan Morel Cam­pos, and cousin of Puer­to Rican edu­ca­tor Dr. Car­los Albizu Miranda.

Albizu grad­u­at­ed from Ponce High School. In 1912, Albizu was award­ed a schol­ar­ship to study Engi­neer­ing, spe­cial­iz­ing in Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont. In 1913 he trans­ferred to con­tin­ue his stud­ies at Har­vard University.

At the out­break of World War I, he vol­un­teered in the Unit­ed States Infantry. Albizu was com­mis­sioned a Sec­ond Lieu­tenant in the Army Reserves and sent to the City of Ponce, where he orga­nized the town’s Home Guard. He was called to serve in the reg­u­lar Army and sent to Camp Las Casas for fur­ther train­ing. Upon com­plet­ing the train­ing, he was assigned to the 375th Infantry Reg­i­ment. The Unit­ed States Army, then seg­re­gat­ed, assigned Puer­to Ricans of rec­og­niz­ably African descent as sol­diers to the all-black units, such as the 375th Reg­i­ment. Offi­cers were men clas­si­fied as white, as was Albizu Cam­pos.  Lieu­tenant Pedro Albizu Cam­pos (U.S. Army)

Albizu was hon­or­ably dis­charged from the Army in 1919, with the rank of First Lieu­tenant. Dur­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice, he was exposed to the racism of the day. This deep­ened his per­spec­tive on U.S.- Puer­to Rican rela­tions, and he became the lead­ing advo­cate for Puer­to Rican independence.

In 1919, Albizu returned to his stud­ies at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, where he was elect­ed pres­i­dent of the Har­vard Cos­mopoli­tan Club. He met with for­eign stu­dents and world lead­ers, such as Sub­has Chan­dra Bose, the Indi­an Nation­al­ist leader, and the Hin­du poet Rabindranath Tagore. He became inter­est­ed in the cause of Indi­an inde­pen­dence, and also helped to estab­lish sev­er­al cen­ters in Boston for Irish inde­pen­dence. Through this work, Albizu met the Irish leader, Éamon de Valera, and lat­er became a con­sul­tant in the draft­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion of the Irish Free State.

Albizu Cam­pos grad­u­at­ed from Har­vard Law School while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly study­ing Lit­er­a­ture, Phi­los­o­phy, Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Mil­i­tary Sci­ence at Har­vard Col­lege. He was flu­ent in six mod­ern and two clas­si­cal lan­guages: Eng­lish, Span­ish, French, Ger­man, Por­tuguese, Ital­ian, Latin and Greek.

Upon grad­u­a­tion from law school, Albizu was recruit­ed for pres­ti­gious posi­tions, includ­ing a law clerk­ship to the U.S. Supreme Court, a diplo­mat­ic post with the U.S. State Depart­ment, the region­al vice-pres­i­den­cy (Caribbean region) of a U.S. agri­cul­tur­al syn­di­cate, and a tenured fac­ul­ty appoint­ment to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico.

On June 23, 1921, after grad­u­at­ing from Har­vard Law School, Albizu returned to Puer­to Rico — but with­out his law diplo­ma. He had been the vic­tim of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion by one of his pro­fes­sors, who delayed his third-year final exams for cours­es in Evi­dence and Cor­po­ra­tions. Accord­ing to Marisa Rosado’s 1991 biog­ra­phy of him pub­lished in Puer­to Rico, Albizu was about to grad­u­ate with the high­est grade-point aver­age in his entire law school class. As such, he was sched­uled to give the vale­dic­to­ry speech dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies. His pro­fes­sor delayed his exams so that he could not com­plete his work, and avoid­ed the “embar­rass­ment” of a Puer­to Rican law valedictorian.

Albizu left the U.S., took and passed the two exams in Puer­to Rico, and in June 1922 received his law degree by mail. He passed the bar exam and was admit­ted to the bar in Puer­to Rico on Feb­ru­ary 11, 1924.