Ruth Mary Reynolds was a teacher and civil rights activist with a deep commitment to Puerto Rican independence. She went to jail for “conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government.”
But the real reason for her arrest, was that the FBI wanted to steal the manuscript of Campus in Bondage…her book about political corruption in Puerto Rico, and police beatings of Puerto Rican students. The FBI did not want this book to be published.
Carmen Perez, Olga Viscal, and Ruth Reynolds under arrest
Reynolds met Albizu Campos while he was interned in Columbus Hospital in New York City. Shortly afterward, she co-founded the American League for Puerto Rican Independence. In 1947 and for decades afterwards, she appeared before the US congress and the United Nations, on behalf of independence for Puerto Rico.
In 1948, Reynolds became aware that the police were beating and tear-gassing students in the University of Puerto Rico. Some students had been clubbed on the head until they were unconscious, and had to be hospitalized.
Reynolds went down to Puerto Rico and conducted a four-month investigation. After hundreds of interviews, she concluded that the beatings were politically motivated. The police had been instructed to prevent the Nationalist Party – and especially Albizu Campos – from having any contact with the college students.
At that point, Reynolds decided to write a book about her findings. The finished manuscript was called Campus in Bondage, and was ready for publication in 1950…but on October 31, 1950, she was arrested for “conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government.”
In a letter to her sister Helen, Reynolds described this arrest:
“I was asleep in my bed at 2 am…and then, more than forty policemen and National Guardsmen, armed with rifles, machine guns and revolvers, came to the house where I was living alone…With more machine guns pointed at me than I had ever seen in one place, I did not resist. After stealing all my books and papers, they told me that they had no paper, but that they did have orders to arrest me.”
Reynolds was imprisoned for 19 months in La Princesa and Arecibo District Jail, and released in June 1952. The manuscript of Campus in Bondage had “disappeared” but Reynolds had sent a carbon copy of it to New York.
For the rest of her life, Reynolds never abandoned her principles. She testified repeatedly before the UN Committee on Decolonization and Campus in Bondage was finally published in 1989, the year of her death.
There is a collection of Ruth M. Reynolds papers at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños in New York City, in their “Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora.”
She was born on February 29, 1916…exactly one hundred years ago.
One century later, the people of Puerto Rico salute Ruth M. Reynolds: a woman of great conscience and courage.
A close personal friend of Pedro Albizu Campos.
A true champion of Puerto Rico.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
Si prefiere ver la página web en español por favor visite: http://www.guerracontratodoslospuertorriquenos.com