Home » News » Inhabitants of Americas » New York, In Memory of Carmen Vega-Rivera “through organizing, we are an unstoppable force”

Mostra/Nascondi il menu

New York, In Memory of Carmen Vega-Rivera “through organizing, we are an unstoppable force”

New York, In Memory of Carmen Vega-Rivera


New York, NY- On Sunday, December 15, the Bronx lost a long-time housing advocate, a treasured friend: Community Activist, Organizer, and Educator Carmen Vega-Rivera died at the age of 65.His teachings and example will always be with us.

Dear family, friends and acquaintances,

I wanted to pass on this acknowledgement of Carmen Vega-Rivera whom we lost this past Sunday. Personally I lost a good friend, mentor and challenger.

Carmen did quite a bit of traveling with me internationally because she wanted to know more about international struggles and she sought out stages to share

with the world the struggles and neglect of people of Puerto Rico.  As long as I've know Carmen she suffered from physical health issues but never let her health get in the way of the mission at hand. Carmen you will be missed!!!

In solidarity,

Robert Robinson

A resident of the Grand Concourse for 37 years, Vega-Rivera spent her life advocating for the working people of NYC, fighting for affordable housing, public spaces, educational opportunity, and infrastructure repair. She was the founder of Atabey Collaborative, which provides development assistance for non-profits, arts and educational institutions. Her almost 40 years of advocacy include her work with Say Yes to Education, the East Harlem Tutorial Program, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and a wealth of other institutions.

She was a leader of Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), and played a crucial role in the struggle to protect local businesses and make affordable housing a part of the controversial Jerome Avenue Rezoning Plan. She was also active with the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision (BxCCV).

Her many honors include the Educational Equity Concepts Ground-breaker Award, the Women’s History Month Governor’s Award for Excellence, the El Diario/La Presna – 50 Outstanding Latinas Award, and the Ellen Lurie Award.

In August 2016, Carmen along with members and staff of CASA attended the World Social Forum in Montreal Canada where they met housing activists from all over the world, including the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Brazil (MAB). She would later become a member of the US Solidarity Committee with MAB.  The Montreal trip opened Carmen’s eyes to the expanse of eviction problems around the world. Upon her return to New York City, she advocated for her organization to participate in the parallel Alternative Forum to Habitat III in Quito Ecuador.  The Alternative Forum was organized, among other, by the International Alliance of Inhabitants where the International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE) was hold. While participating in a tribunal, Carmen took advantage of the opportunity in Ecuador to educate folks on the struggles of Puerto Rico, especially the neglect of the US government after the devastation of hurricane Maria.

Carmen made several trips to Brazil as a member of the US Solidarity Committee with MAB participating in the Alternative Forum on Water and International Seminars. When informed of Carmen’s passing a MAB militant said “my memory of Carmen-- great lovely person with a lot of energy”.

A message on CASA’s Facebook  page said, in part:  “Her spirit and energy was contagious, her passion endless, her razor-sharp wit, her commitment to the Bronx deep, and she fiercely believed and demanded that another world was possible. Carmen leaves us with the profound knowledge and belief in ourselves that through organizing, we are an unstoppable force.”

She is survived by her husband, her daughter, her son, five grandchildren and a great grandson.

The Bronx – and the city of New York – is the poorer for the loss of Carmen Vega-Rivera. Her devotion to the greater good is a shining example for us all.