Puerto Rican advocate Juan Ramos dies at 71
Juan Ramos was an advocate for Latino and Puerto Rican civil rights, pushing politically and through grassroot support throughout the city.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Juan Ramos, former Philadelphia City Council member and prominent advocate in the Latino civil rights movement, died on June 22, 2023 at the age of 71 following a battle with Alzheimer's disease, his family reported.
Ramos' family migrated to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico in 1953 when he was 2 years old, where he would spend his life in the service of improving the wellbeing of marginalized and underserved communities across the city, especially Latino communities.
In high school, Ramos connected with other Puerto Rican youth and understood the similarities between their families experiences, leading him to join the Young Lords Philadelphia chapter, an organization originally founded in Chicago in the '60s.
This chapter not only defended and provided for the Hispanic community, but also were staunch advocates for Puerto Rican self-determination.
“They were part of …young people now going to school and starting to become self-aware of the circumstances of the Puerto Rican community in Philadelphia, the disregard that existed,” said Pedro Ramos, brother to the late Juan Ramos, to the Inquirer.
“The Young Lords was born with this notion of the community defending and providing for itself. And from this group of teenagers in that era grew a Boomer generation of Puerto Rican leaders in Philadelphia,” he continued.
His actions brought concern for his safety from his parents, to the point that his father would occasionally sit outside the Young Lord's headquarters, concerned it would be firebombed, which it once was, though Ramos was adamant in his dedication.
During his time with the Young Lords, Ramos spoke out against issues such as police brutality against people of color and Puerto Ricans, pushed for supporting communities in the midst of gang wars, and demonstrated against housing and blight issues.
The latter notably led to him taking part in a squatter’s movement that repaired abandoned houses throughout the city.
Politically, Ramos served a term in the City Council from 2004 to 2008. He also co-founded the Puerto Rican Alliance, a voting advocacy organization that pushed to expand voter registration and access in Latino communities, and promoted Latino candidates.
Ramos is survived by his wife, Ana Sostre-Ramos, his daughters Alicia Ruiz and Anita Ramos, his son Andres Ramos-Cuadrado, his four siblings Elsa Ramos, Gladys Ramos-Colon, Jose Ramos, and Pedro Ramos, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be held on Monday, July 31 at the St. Peter the Apostle Church at 1019 N. 5th Street in Philadelphia, according to his family members.