The parents of Pedro Albizu Campos are Juliana Campos Campos and Alejandro Albizu y Romero. Both of his parents have significantly different origins that converged in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Juliana was born in 1857 in Ponce’s neighboring town of Juana Díaz where her mother, Ana María, worked as a slave on an hacienda whose owner was named Adolfo Campos. After he died, Juliana left the hacienda with her older sister Rosa and settled in a neighborhood of Ponce recently established for freed slaves after the abolition of slavery in 1873. Juliana’s father, according to an account by the late North American anti-imperialist activist Ruth Reynolds, was a man named Tomás that arrived in Puerto Rico from the U.S. South to work as a slave.
Alejandro was born in 1844 Ponce where his parents met soon after arriving there in 1821 from Venezuela. Alejandro’s father, Antonio Albizu Ordoñez, was of Basque origin. Antonio, who at one point lived in the U.S. and considered joining Southern forces during the American Civil War, worked as an accountant and then Customs administrator in Ponce. Antonio owned an hacienda in Ponce where slaves were used for labor and where Alejandro also worked as a manager. Alejandro’s mother, Rita Romero Molina, was the daughter of Francisco Romero, a twice interim Mayor of Ponce.
Whatever the circumstances that brought about the meeting of Don Pedro’s parents and his birth, it was not a simple matter. His father Alejandro was not only part of a landowning family that benefited from the work of slaves, but he was also married. As a consequence, when Juliana Campos gave birth to their child she registered him with the name Pedro Campos and made no mention of a father. It was not until the year 1914, while Don Pedro was a student at Harvard University, that he went with his father to a law office in Ponce to be legally recognized as his son and take on the surname Albizu.
Through his parents, Pedro Albizu Campos inherited a diverse ancestry composed of the European, African, and Native elements that most Puerto Ricans can claim at varying degrees. While his paternal side was European, landowning, and a benefactor of slavery, Don Pedro nevertheless spoke positively of his father’s family both in private and in public.
There are two dates given as the birthdate of Pedro Albizu Campos — September 12, 1891 and June 29, 1893. The confusion comes in part from the fact that, throughout his life, Don Pedro himself used both dates at different moments. To add to the confusion, there were even moments when Don Pedro used one date when discussing his birthdate but gave an age that corresponded to the other.
What seems to be clear is that the solution to this question cannot be discussed without an understanding of Puerto Rican and/or African spiritual beliefs. Specifically, the ability of a person’s spirit to be incorporated into the body of another person, and the apparent belief in this by Don Pedro’s mother, is what holds the key to making sense of this double birthdate confusion.
Having given birth to a child on the 12th of September 1891, Juliana Campos registered this child the following month as Pedro Campos. Not long after, this child passed away. Juliana then gave birth to another child on the 29th of June 1893, the Catholic feast day of San Pedro and San Pablo throughout Latin America. Due to her spiritual beliefs, coupled with the religious significance of the date, Juliana considered this child to have the spirit of her earlier-born son and maintained its name as Pedro. No birth records exist for this second child as Juliana did not go about the registration process — in her views this child was a manifestation of the spirit of the earlier born.
Don Pedro used both dates at different moments. When Don Pedro was admitted to Harvard University in 1913 the birthdate he wrote on his admissions papers was June 29, 1893. When he went with his father a year later to be legally recognized by him the date of birth given was September 12, 1891.
What can be concluded from what is known is, in essence, the ‘spiritual’ birthdate of Pedro Albizu Campos is September 12, 1891, and his ‘biological’ birthdate is June 29, 1893.
- Pedro Albizu Campos: Las Llamas de la Aurora- Acercamiento a su Biografía, by Marisa Rosado (Ediciones Puerto, 2008).
- Episode 1: Albizu’s Birthday, by whoisalbizu (2011).
- The Ruth M. Reynolds Papers, Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library and Archives (Hunter College, CUNY).