The Autobiography of Nelson A. DíazNelson A. Díaz
With a Foreword by Henry Cisneros
Listen to author Nelson Diaz speak on the immigration experience or about failure and intervention at an early age.
Raised in the squalor of a New York tenement until he was 10 years old, Nelson Díaz saw his life change when his family moved to a brand-new high-rise project in West Harlem in the 1950s. That experience, along with lessons learned as the only Latino law student at Temple University, would drive him throughout his life as a lawyer and activist, fighting for the expansion of rights for all Americans.
“No soy de aquí ni de allá ” is a mantra for Puerto Ricans who feel like foreigners wherever they are and who seek a place for themselves. In his inspiring autobiography, Not from Here, Not from There, Díaz tells the story of his struggles and triumphs as his perspective widened from the New York streets and law school classrooms to the halls of power in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Whether as a leader in economic development, a pioneer in court reform, or a champion of fair housing, Díaz has never stopped advocating for others. Díaz was happy to be the first Latino to “do something,” but he never wanted to be the last. This story of an outsider who worked his way to the inside offers powerful lessons on finding a place in the world by creating spaces where everyone is welcome.
“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
"Diaz--a former judge, city solicitor, and member of the Clinton administration--unspools his gripping life story, beginning with his pregnant mother's 1946 voyage from Puerto Rico, winding through a youth in Harlem tenements, and concluding with his rise to prominence in Philly public life. Diaz's dual status--American but also other--is a constant theme. A vital read for turbulent times."
"Nelson Díaz has been a presence in Philadelphia since 1969, and a leader of its Latinx community almost as long. His new autobiography, Not from Here, Not from There (No Soy de Aquí ni de Allá) traces his remarkable career.... The most revealing parts of the narrative, which hopscotches through Díaz’s resume, are the personal encounters with people like former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo, evangelist Billy Graham, and Leroy Otis, a homeless man in West Harlem who coached Díaz and other neighborhood kids in softball." — Broad Street Review
"The concept for this volume is brilliant, and Shiel's execution is stunning. Architectures of Revolt comprises essays that address the relationship between cinema, the city, and architecture in the pivotal year 1968. Paris, Milan, Berlin, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Tokyo are all examined through this lens. What makes this collection work so well is the editor's guiding hand. Shiel made sure that the essays all speak to each other rather than simply adhere to a rough theme (as in so many edited works).... The contributors utilize well-known films of 1968 (e.g., Midnight Cowboy, Medium Cool, Zabriskie Point) but also rarely seen films of those who used collective revolutionary means in documenting and distributing their works.... Summing Up: Essential." — Choice
"This memoir by Philadelphia lawyer Nelson Diaz...is a fascinating read on many levels and is absolutely inspiring." — The Philadelphia Lawyer
"Not from Here, Not from There is Nelson Diaz’s memoir detailing his childhood in New York City, his migration to Philadelphia, and his career in local and national politics.... The sense of not fitting neatly within a specific community encapsulated in the title of this book is reinforced at multiple points of the narrative.... Diaz’s discussion of his tenure as judge, city solicitor, and with HUD provide a useful glimpse inside the machinations of Philadelphia politics during the 1980s and 1990s and highlights the changing role of Puerto Ricans in local politics during this period.... Diaz also relays to the reader the sense of wonder he felt upon discovering the world of power brokers who resided in a realm beyond electoral politics."
—CENTRO: The Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies