LJP Mourns the Death of Puerto Rican Icon Miguel "Mike" Rivera
STATEMENT FROM JUAN CARTAGENA, PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL
On behalf of LatinoJustice PRLDEF I express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of one of the Puerto Rican icons of New Jersey, Mr. Miguel “Mike” Rivera. New Jersey’s Latino community lost an incredible advocate for justice and respect for the state’s vibrant Latino family.
Mr. Rivera, born in Vieques, Puerto Rico, was an activist and advocate of Puerto Rican and Latino causes for decades and he was particularly well-known to New Jersey’s Latino nonprofits by way of his community outreach work for New Jersey Bell, Bell Atlantic and eventually, Verizon. That work kept him in the vanguard of supporting multiple community based organizations throughout Newark, Jersey City, Perth Amboy, Camden, Paterson, Dover, Vineland, New Brunswick and the rest of the Garden State.
As a result, he was a fixture in almost every fundraising event in the Latino nonprofit world that he was instrumental in creating. Statewide Puerto Rican organizations like Congreso Boricua were the beneficiaries of is intellect and his strategic vision. He founded the first Puerto Rican Lions Club in Newark and then supported a similar one in Jersey City. And he was a supporter of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey for years.
“I’ve known Mike Rivera for over 30 years and his passion for our community never ebbed,” noted Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “In the 1980s I was an attorney at Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund and he brought me back to Newark, to the city that housed Aspira of New Jersey – the first place I had ever seen Puerto Ricans working in a professional office setting.
"He brought me in to support a political effort to increase the voting strength and representation of Puerto Ricans in that city by using the knowledge I’d gained through voting rights lawsuits in New York City. His strategic vision for a greater voice for marginalized Puerto Ricans and Latinos in the State’s largest city impressed me then. Mike was of “la vieja guardia”, old school in many ways but fiercely determined. We need more like him today.”