Valencia was born in 1942 in El Barrio where she lived on 104th Street until she was 10 years old. Valencia describes El Barrio of the 1940’s to the early 1950’s as a place with the strongest sense of community outside of Puerto Rico that she has experienced. El Barrio was a place of stoops and stickball and candy stores with the rumblings of gangs and drugs just beginning. She tells of her Chilean father, Juan Aurelio Valencia Aguardio, who jumped ship in New York during the Great Depression. Educated and a working professional in Chile, he was forced to a life of manual labor in New York. Juan also belonged to the social club, Fraternidad de Hermanos Chilenos (Fraternity of Chilean Brothers). She tells of her mother, Virginia Rodríguez La Llave, married and divorced young with two children in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Virginia fled the stigma of divorce to New York City. Valencia had a close relationship with her brother, Rafael Morales. They shared afternoons of candy and comic books from which she learned to read English. Clip 2 of 2 clips.
Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey