ANTONIA PANTOJA: ¡PRESENTE! is the compelling story of a visionary Puerto Rican leader who inspired multiple generations of young people across the country and Puerto Rico. Unbowed by the obstacles she encountered as a black, Puerto Rican woman, she created enduring leadership organizations in New York, across the United States and in Puerto Rico. Recognized for her achievements in 1996, she received the prestigious Medal of Freedom from President Clinton. Just after death at the age of eighty, her “Memoirs of a Visionary” were published.
Synthesizing home movies, archival footage with passionate personal testimony, the documentary sheds light on the Puerto Rican community’s quest for self-identity, educational rights and bilingual education. An inspirational figure, Dr. Pantoja demonstrates her charming, mischievous and self-reflective nature that she shared with so many.
The film features protégés Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, Digna Sanchez, Asst. Commissioner of New York State Children and Family Services, activist Alice Cardona and actors Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act”) and James Avery (“The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”), both of whom were deeply influenced by Dr. Pantoja during her work with them in San Diego, California.