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Efrain Feliciano Papers

 Series
Identifier: 2006-02
The Efrain Feliciano Papers are an important resource for anyone studying the life and career of a Puerto Rican/ Latino political and civic activist in New Jersey. The papers contain information on Efrain’s personal life and accomplishments, organizations he helped found, the various affiliations and positions he has held, and the relationships he has had with numerous local, state, and national politicians.

The materials in the collection range from 1975-2006. The bulk of the materials are from 1994-2005. Included among the collection are by-laws, calendars, correspondence, directories, financial records, legislations, minutes, newsletters, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, programs, publications, and reports. Most of the materials are in English; some are in Spanish. The folders are arranged alphabetically and the materials are arranged chronologically.

Dates

  • 1975 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1994 - 2005

Creator

Language of Materials

Most of the materials are in English; some are in Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Extent

2.79 Cubic Feet (7 boxes; 5 document boxes and 2 oversized boxes)

Overview

Political and civic activist. Founder of South Jersey Latino and Friends, and the New Jersey State Hispanic Task Force. Resource for studying the life of a Puerto Rican/ Latino activist in Southern New Jersey. Collection consists of by-laws, calendars, correspondence, directories, financial records, legislations, minutes, newsletters, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, programs, publications, and reports.

Biographical / Historical

Efrain Feliciano was one of the founding members of the New Jersey State Hispanic Task Force and South Jersey Latino and Friends. Among other accomplishments as a political and civic leader, he was the first Puerto Rican/ Latino to serve on the Gloucester County College Board of Trustees and the first Puerto Rican/ Latino Chairman of the Township of Deptford Planning Board.

Efrain Feliciano’s parents, Leoncio and Leocadia Feliciano, are originally from Culebra, Puerto Rico, but they met in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. In the 1950s, they migrated to Philadelphia, PA, and were married. They both found employment in the garment industry in Philadelphia. Born in Philadelphia, PA on August 9, 1953, Efrain was the second eldest of six children. He was raised in Philadelphia until age 16 when he dropped out of high school and his parents decided to move to Willingboro Township in New Jersey. He joined the United States Navy a year later and served in Vietnam at the age of 18.

While in the U.S. Navy, Feliciano earned his General Equivalency Diploma (GED), which helped prepare him for his future educational endeavors. In 1973, he began attending Burlington County College (BCC) where he became the first Puerto Rican elected to the position of Student Senator-at-Large. He was also a founding member of the Spanish American Club at BCC. Through the club he petitioned and addressed the Board of Trustees to hire more Latino full-time instructors. In 1975, he was awarded BCC’s Outstanding Achievement Service Award for raising the consciousness level of the Spanish community. After graduating from BCC and while attending Rutgers University in Camden, he became a paraprofessional counselor at BCC.

During his junior year at Rutgers University and while employed at BCC, Feliciano became Barbara Kalik’s campaign coordinator for the Assembly of the 7th Legislative District of New Jersey. With just $3000 and a handful of volunteers he mounted a campaign that helped Barbara Kalik get elected to Assembly where she served for 14 years. He then served as her Legislative Aid from 1978-1979. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1979 then became a Confidential Agent to the Chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board (NJSPB).

Feliciano has also lobbied for Hispanics to be appointed/ elected into positions of power through his political/ civic affiliations. Such as in 1980, when Senator Bill Bradley appointed him to serve on his Naval Academia Review Panel and he lobbied his colleagues to guarantee that a Latino applicant become a finalist in the selection process for an appointment to the Annapolis Military Academia. Two years later, he was appointed by the Mayor of Willingboro, NJ, Ms. Precilla Anderson, to the Human Relations Commission to help promote harmony among members of the Afro-American and Anglo-American Community. He noticed there wasn’t any major Latino political representation from Southern New Jersey, so he decided to become more active with the Hispanic political community. Feliciano was noticed in the William “Bill” Clinton for President Campaign in 1992. A year later, he was invited to become a founding member of the New Jersey State Hispanic Task Force, an expansion of the New Jersey State Democratic Party. After which, he became the Latino South Jersey Campaign Coordinator for Governor Jim Florio’s reelection efforts in 1993.

One year later, Feliciano helped form the political action committee, South Jersey Latino and Friends for the purpose of uniting the Latino Leadership in Southern Jersey. South Jersey Latino and Friends collectively represented 100,000 Latinos from Burlington County to Cape May County. His efforts within these organizations helped Latinos such as, Nilsa Cruz-Pérez, become the first Puerto Rican/Latina Assemblywoman in the 5th Legislative District and Milton Milán become the first Puerto Rican/Latino Mayor in the City of Camden.

Feliciano supported the U.S. Senate candidacy of Congressman Robert Torricelli who appointed him to his Senate Judicial Review Committee in 1997. That Judicial Review Committee selected Judge Julio Fuentes as the finalist. President Bill Clinton nominated Fuentes to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

After Governor Jim Florio’s loss to Christine Todd Whitman in 1993, Feliciano viewed Senator James E. McGreevey as the only candidate for Governor who would be sensitive toward those issues that were plaguing the Latino Community at the time. Efrain publicly endorsed Mayor James E. McGreevey for Governor in 1996 and was one of the several individuals instrumental in James McGreevey almost defeating Governor Christine Whitman in 1997.

Despite the 1997 loss, Feliciano never stopped campaigning for Gubernatorial Candidate James McGreevey. He took a leave of absence from the NJSPB to become Deputy Campaign Manager of Victory 2001. He helped run the successful gubernatorial campaign for James E. McGreevey then returned to the NJSPB as the newly appointed Legislation Liaison.

Approximately a year later, he was transferred on a temporary basis as Inter-agency Liaison of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), where he established a liaison with state, county and local government officials with regards to transportation and economic development in the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey region. After five and one half months at the DRPA, Efrain completed his assigned task and returned to the NJSPB as its Legislative Liaison.

In March of 2006, Efrain was promoted to Chief of Legislative Affairs and Community Outreach, which he currently serves today. He has been with the NJSPB for the past 27 plus years and is expected to retire in September 2008.

Today, Efrain Feliciano continues to encourage and motivate Latinos throughout the state of New Jersey to engage in community activism for the benefit of the Latino community. Efrain lives in South Jersey with his wife, Patricia and their daughter Christina, who is currently attending her freshman year at Widener University and pursuing a Nursing Degree. His son Robert is currently married to Ms. Maria Orsino and they live in Elmwood Park, Bergen County. He is currently employed as an Account Executive for a warehouse in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

Feliciano’s collection offers insight into his life as a political and civic activist for a pioneering Latino political presence in Southern New Jersey. It also provides an example of his ongoing work with the various affiliations and positions he has held as the first Puerto Rican/ Latino to hold the positions.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into the following series:

I. Biographical and Personal Information
II. Correspondence
III. Affiliations
IV. Politics
V. Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Efrain Feliciano, July 2006.

Separated Materials

Videocassettes transferred to the Puerto Rican Community Archives – Video Collection.
Title
Guide to the Efrain Feliciano - Papers
Status
completed
Author
Yesenia López and Beatriz Sánchez with the assistance of Stephanie Gonzalez
Date
May 2007
Description rules
dacs
Sponsor
Processed with a Special Purpose Grant from the New Jersey Legislature sponsored by Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo

Revision Statements

  • August 2019: Finding aid encoded in EAD by Juber Ayala

Repository Details

Part of the Puerto Rican Community Archives, New Jersey Hispanic Resource & Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

Contact:
5 Washington Street
P.O. Box 630
Newark New Jersey 07101-0630
(973) 733-4791