Edna Negron Rosario

Edna Negron Rosario
"The lobbying power of the vote, I don't need to tell you, is very big."
- Edna Negron Rosario

Induction Category:
Education & Preservation

Born: 1944

Inducted: 1994

Town: Hartford

Edna Negron Rosario is an educator, consultant and community organizer who established the first family resource center and school-based health clinic in the nation.

Edna Negron was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States in 1955. Her family settled in Hartford, where she attended Weaver High School. She went on to graduate from Hartford College for Women and then the University of Hartford, where she was awarded a B.S. degree in 1973 (summa cum laude) and an M.S. in 1974.

Negron began her teaching career in 1974, teaching first grade at the Ann Street Bilingual Community School in Hartford, and then served for many years as the coordinator of the Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program for the Hartford Public Schools. As principal of the Ramon E. Betances School in Hartford, she founded the Family Resource Center, which became a national model for family-based, multi-generational social services housed in public schools.

In 1989, after a long term on the board of directors of La Casa de Puerto Rico, Negron was elected as its president. A year later, she became the representative for the state’s 6th House District after winning a special election for the seat vacated by the death of Maria Sanchez. She served out the remainder of Sanchez's term and ran again for the seat in November 1990. Rosario also serves the community as a member of numerous boards, committees, task forces, volunteer groups and professional organizations.

She has been a guest lecturer on bilingual education and Puerto Rican history and culture at colleges and universities and on radio and television. Her many awards include a public service award from the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization of Women, the Greater Hartford Alumni Association's Community Leadership Recognition Award, Hartford Hospital's Community Service Award, the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association's Achievement Award and an honorary doctorate from Trinity College.

Rosario has three children and resides in Hartford. She served as Connecticut's regional director of the governor's Office of Puerto Rico, assistant vice president for community affairs for The Hartford, and representative for the Hartford Public Schools with the Connecticut Regional Educational Council and the Hartford Public Library. She is currently the southern New England regional director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, where she has worked to register Puerto Ricans as voters in the state.

During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice

Feminism in the late 1960s was aided by President Kennedy, who formed the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and his successor, President Johnson, who backed passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Difficulties in implementing the law through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) led a group of women in 1966 to create the National Organization for Women (NOW), demanding “action to bring American women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”

A younger group called for a more radical approach to social change than simply considering what was possible to achieve politically. “Women’s liberation” demanded freedom without limitation. Some took part in consciousness-raising groups, others demonstrated against the Miss America pageant, and many discussed their expectations of mutual enjoyment of sex. They established rape crisis centers, domestic shelters, and women’s studies programs. Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act also increased pressure on universities to hire more women faculty and expand the number of female college athletes. Activist protest among gays and lesbians, such as the Stonewall Riot, symbolized this group’s potential to resist oppression.

Under pressure, many states repealed legislation prohibiting abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized its availability to women in Roe v. Wade. Also in 1973, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the ERA, and states began its ratification.

Yet, dissension arose in the ranks of the movement, as it had earlier after passage of the 19th amendment. Feminists disagreed as to whether pornography should be banned or protected as a form of free speech, and whether lesbian identities should be kept secret or disclosed. Black women were more concerned with poverty and welfare in their communities than with personal career advancement; for them, sterilization abuse was more important than abortion, and they were deeply insulted by attacks on the African American family as matriarchal and dysfunctional.

A backlash was growing in the 1970s, along with a New Right in politics. The ERA was defeated and opposition to abortion increased. Conflicts between pro-life and pro-choice candidates have impacted every presidential campaign since then.

Still, gains have been made in many areas. From 1960 to 2000, increasing numbers of women sought entry to higher education, and bachelor’s degrees awarded to them increased from forty to sixty percent.  Definitions of marriage have changed, as when courts gave full rights and responsibilities and the name of marriage to same-sex civil unions in Connecticut in 2008. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 highlighted concern about sexual harassment on the job, and the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC have increased, as have judgments in favor of the women. Finally, in 2009, women crossed the fifty percent threshold and became the majority of the American workforce. Once largely confined to repetitive manual jobs, now they are running organizations that once treated them as second-class citizens.

The Women’s Movement has changed women’s lives, influenced the economy, and made debate about their roles, family life, and sexual conventions central to national politics and American history.

Special thanks to Barbara E. Lacey, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, St. Joseph's College (Hartford, CT) for preparing these historical summaries.