“I believe he essentially created the Puerto Rican middle class in this city,” said Howard Jordan, radio host of “The Jordan Journal” and 40-year friend of Falcón. “Before that, everybody was working class.”
A political scientist who studied at Columbia, Falcón created the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, now known as the National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP), in the early 1980s.
“He had so much energy against injustice,” said friend Gerson Borrero.
“Angelo learned that it’s not enough to simply be upset or depressed about the fact that we often find ourselves being assaulted in minor or major ways by living in this society,” said current NILP chair Jose Sanchez. “We have to turn the tables on them. Angelo spent his entire life turning the tables on those in power.”
Falcón also founded a think tank that created empirically based reports to show how larger policies affect the community.
“Numbers and words are often more powerful than being in the street and throwing rocks,” Sanchez recalled Falcón telling him.
Falcon’s work convinced policymakers to redraw Congressional and Assembly districts to reflect the Puerto Rican population. Jordan said many elected officials today wouldn’t be in office if not for Falcon.
According to him, Falcón had a love-hate relationship with elected officials.
“He was very uncompromising and they came after him very often,” Jordan said.
Falcón lived as a humble man, and many joked the steady rain that fell during the ceremony was Falcon’s attempt to stop it.
“I know Angelo would have hated this,” his brother Andy said, “but this is something he really deserved.”