About the Man, Eugenio María de Hostos

Eugenio María de HostosEugenio María de Hostos was a Puerto Rican educator, writer and patriot, born in 1839 in Río Cañas, Mayagüez. Hostos attended school in Mayagüez and San Juan and studied law in Spain where he fought to liberalize Spain’s colonial rule of Cuba and Puerto Rico. He opposed all forms of slavery and fought arduously to abolish slavery in Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1869, he left Madrid for New York City where he joined other exiles in the struggle for the liberation of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Hostos was a man who dedicated his life to progress, education and justice--passionately committed to human rights and personal dignity. He vigorously championed reforms in politics, law, social mores and education. His extensive travels throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean provided him firsthand contact with the social and economic injustice and struggles taking place in many countries. He disseminated his ideas and ideals through a wide range of literary formats—books, newspaper articles, plays, speeches, and letters—to people on both continents. He fought against colonialism and slavery, endeavored gain for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and became a vigorous advocate for an Antillean Confederation. Hostos was also Latin America’s first scientific sociologist and an early champion of inclusiveness. He denounced the exploitation of the Chinese indentured servants in Perú and became a strong advocate for women’s educational rights.

His contributions to educational philosophy and pedagogy were liberating and transformative: through education, people would be better social contributors and realize their individuality; mothers would become better equipped and be better teachers of their children; societies would be civilized; nations would become modern and develop their potential. In Chile, he argued vigorously for the scientific education of women, and in the Dominican Republic, he founded normal (teacher schools for men, and with Dominican poet Salomé Ureña, he opened teachers school for women, called “normal.”) schools for men and women, a kindergarten, and a night school for workers.

Eugenio María de Hostos’s work and ideas have influenced the intellectual discourse of Latin America for more than 125 years, making a tremendous contribution to Caribbean identity, culture and political development. He died in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on August 11, 1903. He is buried in the Panteón Nacional de la Patria in the colonial district of Santo Domingo. Per his wishes, his remains shall stay in the Dominican Republic until his Puerto Rico is an independent Republic.

To learn how the College got its name, listen to the late Nasry Michelen, the first Hostos Community College president tell the story.