Raised in the squalor of a New York tenement until he was 10 years old, Nelson Díaz saw his life change when his family moved to a brand-new high-rise project in West Harlem in the 1950s. That experience, along with lessons learned as the only Latino law student at Temple University, would drive him throughout his life as a lawyer and activist, fighting for the expansion of rights for all Americans.
“No soy de aquí ni de allá” is a mantra for Puerto Ricans who feel like foreigners wherever they are and who seek a place for themselves. In his inspiring autobiography, Not from Here, Not from There, Díaz tells the story of his struggles and triumphs as his perspective widened from the New York streets and law school classrooms to the halls of power in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Whether as a leader in economic development, a pioneer in court reform, or a champion of fair housing, Díaz has never stopped advocating for others. Díaz was happy to be the first Latino to “do something,” but he never wanted to be the last. This story of an outsider who worked his way to the inside offers powerful lessons on finding a place in the world by creating spaces where everyone is welcome.