Dolores Prida, 1943–2013

New York’s Latino community suffered the sudden loss this week of the voice of Dolores Prida. The Cuban-born writer was a columnist for this newspaper for years and commentator for other Spanish and English media outlets. Prida was a visionary and a source of pride for our community—not just because of her way with words, but her astounding skills in challenging public thinking on major issues. Her passing leaves behind a great vacuum in U.S. Latino journalism.

Prida will be remembered and missed by generations of Latinas who found in her words (in person and in writing) a strong defense of Latino language and culture and also of the power of women to overcome sexism, understand their rights and better themselves.

However, her interests went far beyond feminism. Prida faithfully and tirelessly kept an eye on local and national goings-on. In her column last week (perhaps the last one she wrote), in strong support of the White House’s gun-control effort, Prida urged Latino readers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a change. The road is long and uphill, but we must start somewhere. Grab the phone, send an e-mail, write a letter with pen and paper, or send smoke signals to your congressperson and senators in Washington and let them know what you think about this.”

Prida’s own personal battle was triggering action and motivating change.

Now that she has died, there’s one more action to call for and expect: for Prida’s legacy to serve as an inspiration for Latino writers, journalists and commentators in the U.S. We need watchful eyes to follow social and political events, sharp minds to analyze issues and honest voices to express opinions and inform.

Let the voices of the Prida-like people who are here now and the ones from the next generations be heard. That would make her proud and make us better as a community.