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Pedro Albizu Campos was born in the Tenerías sector of Barrio Machuelo Abajo in Ponce, Puerto Rico to Alejandro Albizu Romero, known as "El Vizcaíno," was a Basque merchant, and Juana Campos, a woman of Spanish, African and Taino ancestry, on 12 September 1891. From an educated family, Pedro Albizu Campos was the nephew of the danza composer Juan Morel Campos, and cousin of Puerto Rican educator Dr. Carlos Albizu Miranda.
Pedro Albizu Campos graduated from Ponce High School. In 1912, Pedro Albizu Campos was awarded a scholarship to study Engineering, specializing in Chemistry at the University of Vermont. In 1913 he transferred to continue his studies at Harvard University.
At the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered in the United States Infantry. Pedro Albizu Campos was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserves and sent to the City of Ponce, where he organized the town's Home Guard. He was called to serve in the regular Army and sent to Camp Las Casas for further training. Upon completing the training, he was assigned to the 375th Infantry Regiment. The United States Army, then segregated, assigned Puerto Ricans of recognizably African descent as soldiers to the all-black units, such as the 375th Regiment. Officers were men classified as white, as was Pedro Albizu Campos.
Pedro Albizu Campos was honorably discharged from the Army in 1919, with the rank of First Lieutenant. During his military service, he was exposed to the racism of the day. This deepened his perspective on U.S.- Puerto Rican relations, and he became the leading advocate for Puerto Rican independence.
In 1919, Pedro Albizu Campos returned to his studies at Harvard University, where he was elected president of the Harvard Cosmopolitan Club. He met with foreign students and world leaders, such as Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian Nationalist leader, and the Hindu poet Rabindranath Tagore. He became interested in the cause of Indian independence, and also helped to establish several centers in Boston for Irish independence. Through this work, Pedro Albizu Campos met the Irish leader, , and later became a consultant in the drafting of the constitution of the Irish Free State.
Pedro Albizu Campos graduated from Harvard Law School while simultaneously studying Literature, Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Military Science at Harvard College. He was fluent in six modern and two classical languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Latin and Greek.
Upon graduation from law school, Pedro Albizu Campos was recruited for prestigious positions, including a law clerkship to the U.S. Supreme Court, a diplomatic post with the U.S. State Department, the regional vice-presidency (Caribbean region) of a U.S. agricultural syndicate, and a tenured faculty appointment to the University of Puerto Rico.
On June 23, 1921, after graduating from Harvard Law School, Pedro Albizu Campos returned to Puerto Rico - but without his law diploma. He had been the victim of racial discrimination by one of his professors, who delayed his third-year final exams for courses in Evidence and Corporations. According to Marisa Rosado's 1991 biography of him published in Puerto Rico, Pedro Albizu Campos was about to graduate with the highest grade-point average in his entire law school class. As such, he was scheduled to give the valedictory speech during the graduation ceremonies. His professor delayed his exams so that he could not complete his work, and avoided the "embarrassment" of a Puerto Rican law valedictorian.
Pedro Albizu Campos left the U.S., took and passed the two exams in Puerto Rico, and in June 1922 received his law degree by mail. He passed the bar exam and was admitted to the bar in Puerto Rico on February 11, 1924.