A native of the Dominican Republic, Frieda Garcia is a longtime community activist in Boston and a pioneer in providing opportunity and services for the city’s Latinos. She came to the US as a child in the 1940s, settling with her family in New York City. Earning her degree in social work at the New School for Social Research, she moved to Boston in 1965 where she worked in the newly established Roxbury Multi-Service Center. As the city’s Latino population surged, Garcia worked with local teachers to assess the needs of low-income Puerto Rican and Dominican families in Roxbury and Dorchester. Securing funding from federal anti-poverty programs, she became the founding director of La Alianza Hispana (the Spanish Alliance) in 1971, the first multiethnic Latino service organization in Boston. She later went on to work at the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center in the South End and in 1981 became the executive director of United South End Settlements, a community service organization that included the Harriet Tubman House. Serving generations of Latino and Black youth and families, Garcia helped expand programming and facilities at USES until her retirement in 2001.
In this excerpt from an interview with Marilynn Johnson in 2019, she discusses her family’s migration to New York in the 1940s and her work founding La Alianza Hispana in the late 1960s and early 1970s.