Dylcia Pagán was born in 1946 at the controversial old Lincoln Hospital, in the Bronx, in New York City. At the age of two she moved to El Barrio – East Harlem. From the time she was five until the age of 12 she performed on “The Children’s Hour on NBC TV, every Sunday morning. Having lost her parents at the age of twenty, Ms. Pagan became an independent woman and activist in her community of East Harlem.
Her involvement began in the civil rights movement, participating in voter registration drives and doing community organizational working in the areas of housing, health, youth development and research. She also worked for (CDA) Community Development Agency evaluating poverty programs throughout the City of New York. In the late 60’s Ms. Pagan ran for public office as a candidate for District Leader. She also ran as a delegate to the Democratic Convention on Shirley Chisholm’s ticket during her presidential candidacy.
In 1969 she decided to attend Brooklyn College on a full time basis after attending Hunter College at night. As a student at Brooklyn College she was one of the founders of the Puerto Rican Student Union which resulted in the formulation of a student-controlled Puerto Rican Studies Department, which is still in existence today.
By the early 1970’s, she worked with the Puerto Rican Media and Education Council, filing a series of lawsuits against the major television stations which facilitated the local public affairs programming that still exists today. She is the first Puerto Rican Woman TV producer in New York City and has worked as a TV producer, writer, and filmmaker developing investigative documentaries and children’s programs at NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS. She also worked as the English editor for the first bilingual daily, El Tiempo and wrote a daily, popular column, for the same newspaper.
In 1978 she established a film and photography school in East Harlem and was subpoenaed to a grand jury concerning the arrest of her, then companion, William Morales. At the time of her arrest, Dylcia was three months pregnant and refused to testify – becoming a Grand Jury Resister. After the birth of her son Guillermo, she worked for El Museo del Barrio producing a series of summer concerts.
In 1979 she went underground with her son and was arrested in 1980, charged with Seditious Conspiracy, for fighting for the Independence of Puerto Rico and was sentenced to 63 years of imprisonment in state and federal facilities in the US.
When she was arrested in 1980, her young child, whose safety she feared for, was hidden from the government. In prison she developed educational and cultural programs for the other inmates, has taught aerobics classes, hand formed ceramics and block printing. She also created a theater company “The Caged Bird Players” which presented eight theatrical productions. She was a member of the Steering committee for the Children’s Center, organized and coordinated “Children’s Day”, an annual day dedicated to the children of the inmates who were allowed to visit inside the prison and share activities with their incarcerated parent.
Ms. Pagan was also responsible for creating a Holistic health program for the female inmates who provided a series of workshops in many self healing aspects including creative writing, painting and expressive skills. She provided the Spanish speaking inmates with weekly holistic workshops for the 500 hour drug preventive program. During her lasts four years of incarceration she organized and coordinated an annual Art Show so that the female inmates could exhibit and sell their art to the public that were allowed to come and view the exhibit.
During her prison stay she also worked on and was featured in three documentaries. “The Pleasanton Five”- about the five Puerto Rican political prisoners including herself, housed in the Federal facility of Pleasanton California at that time. “Woman’s Voices” a documentary about several woman who participated in a therapeutic holistic program at the prison. She and her son are featured in this half hour piece. And “The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez Gomez”- the award winning documentary that aired on PBS nationally on July 30, 1999 about the year that she and her son get to know each other after many years of separation. It also contains a historical political overview of Puerto Rico and the reasons Ms. Pagan choose to defend her country.
On September 10, 1999, Dylcia Pagan was released from prison after serving almost 20 years for fighting for the Independence of her homeland Puerto Rico. Her release came after a long campaign in the US, Puerto Rico and internationally, which pressured President Clinton to give her and nine of her co-defendants, a Presidential Conditional Clemency.
Since 1999 Dylcia has been residing in her native Puerto Rico where she was received by thousands of supporters as a national hero. She has worked for one of the major film companies, Paradiso Films, co-producing the commercials for the Independence Party Gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Ruben Berrios Martinez. She has also worked for the International Book Fair as the producer of a CDROM and also has been the producer/co-director for Farrique Pesquerra Studio, involving photography shoots for commercial products and commercial print work.
In 2001 she worked at Tech Group Inc. a Puerto Rican women-owned IT Solutions company which has been in operation for the past 18 years, as the Director of Web Development and Multi-media. In this capacity she has artistically directed numerous websites for private and governmental agencies, written and produced several CD-ROMs and has made presentations on Website Development to the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico.
After almost 20 years in prison for fighting for the freedom of Puerto Rico, a reporter asked Dylcia how it felt to be free and this was Dylcia’s reply… “I was free before I went into prison, free in prison and free after prison…”