It’s been less than 24 hours since we all learned about the sudden passing of the great Angelo Falcón, who died Thursday night of a heart attack at the age of 66. As the founder and president of National Institute for Latino Policy, Angelo’s emails were always welcomed here at Latino Rebels with a smile. Our team loved how he would manage to send those newsletters almost on a daily or even hourly basis about incredibly interesting topics that pertain to Latino NYC and beyond.
We loved when he would make appearances, challenge others (even us) and just keep it real. As a team, we had the deepest respect for him. Angelo’s voice was always important and influential.
I know Angelo’s presence in NYC and his deep commitment to community had been forged for decades, but our paths didn’t really cross until I was starting Latino Rebels in 2011. Angelo was one of the first people to reach out to me via Facebook to say that what we were doing here was so needed and he congratulated me on the launch. And then when he started putting our LR stories into his newsletter, we thought we had made it!
Such a class act.
Throughout the last seven years, I got to know Angelo better, not only through my interactions with him, but also through others, who had know him back in the day. Angelo was a fighter, who fought his battles with joy and love. He was uncompromising in holding power accountable. He smelled bullshit from miles away. He stirred so many pots that he would probably need an industrial-sized kitchen to fit them all. He did it because he cared. Deeply cared. It was one of the reasons I admired and loved him a lot.
He was a true Latino Rebel.
A lot of what Angelo did each and ever day confirmed my own instincts about what I was doing daily. Never give up the fight. Never stay quiet. Always put your community first. And never ever forget where you came from.
He had the resume to prove it too. Anyone who committed himself to the community for decades without every sacrificing his essence is a true giant. If only our community had thousands of Angelos.
I am going to miss his jokes, his tweets to me, his tips telling me I should be tougher on politicians—all things that made me a better person.
Angelo touched a lot of lives, more than he probably ever knew.
Luckily for me, I was able to interact with him for one last time last year during the height of the Puerto Rican Day Parade-Oscar López Rivera controversy. It was a great convo that still makes me smile to this day.
Angelo, we will all miss you. You set the stage for a lot of us. I will be forever grateful for your kindness and support and love. We promise to keep your legacy going.
Julio Ricardo Varela is founder and publisher of Latino Rebels, part of Futuro Media. He tweets from @julito77.
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