Georgina Falú (1939- )

Dr. Georgina Falú in Harlem, Sept. 2017
Dr. Georgina Falú in Harlem, Sept. 2017

Georgina Falú Pesante, university executive, community organizer, professor, and Pan-Africanist, was born on April 23, 1939 in Santurce, Puerto Rico to María Magdalena “Malen” Pesante Santana, business owner and homemaker, and Juan “Juanín” Falú Zarzuela, civil rights activist. Her father created the League to Promote the Advancement of Blacks in Puerto Rico (1939) and grandfather, Pedro Falú, was the first Afro-Puerto Rican Santurce Municipal Assembly president. Georgina is one of eleven siblings.

Falú attended Pedro Gerónimo Goyco Elementary (1944) and Central High School (1957), where a classmate was famed Afro-Puerto Rican folklorist Modesto Cepeda (Rafael Cepeda Atiles School of Bomba & Plena). She earned a University of Puerto Rico–Rio Piedras (UPR-RP) magna cum laude accounting B.A. (1961), a UC–Berkeley MBA (1964), a Harvard University Diploma (1970), and a Columbia University M.A. and Ed.D. in Higher Education Finances (1980-1983).

She taught accounting at UPR-RP (1961-1984, tenured 1965); Baruch College (1975-1976); and SUNY-Old Westbury (1980-1995, tenured 1982). In 1972, Falú became the first Black person, woman, and youngest appointed UPR-RP College of Business dean. Falú was also Touro College dean (1986) and the first woman to serve as vice president of administration at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (1976-1979).

Falú sold her El Señorial, Puerto Rico home in 1988 to finance Universal Business and Media School in Spanish Harlem, becoming the first Afro-Puerto Rican woman to own an accredited US business school (1988-2001). She founded the Falú Foundation to serve low-income communities and engage in African diaspora history (1988-present). At the City College of New York Black Studies program, Falú taught the first Afro-Latinos History class (2006-2013). Her Falú Foundation Press (2000-2010) translated into Spanish such popular titles as Stolen Legacy by George G. M. James, African Origins of the Major Western Religions, Black Man of the Nile and his Family and Africa: Mother of Western Civilization by Yosef Ben-Jochannan, and her own Afro-Latinos of the Americas.

In 2005, Falú established AFROLAA Project (Afro-Latinos of the Americas) to mobilize Spanish-speaking Afro-descendants to learn their African heritage. Falú co-founded the Elombe Brath Foundation (2014) and helped organize the first Puerto Rican Afro-descendant Congresses (2015-2018) where dozens of scholars and activists, including Mayra Santos-Febres, María Reinat Pumarejo, Quince Duncan, and Mariluz Franco Ortiz, across multiple disciplines presented their research at UPR-RP on the Black experience. Conference proceedings were published as La Experiencia Afrodescendiente and ¡Negro, Negra!: Memorias del Primer Congreso de Afrodecendencia en Puerto Rico.

Falú was African Union Diaspora Task Team secretary (2010-2012); USA Diaspora representative to the World Economic Forum on Africa (2012); and an African Union delegate to the United Nations Agenda-2063. She has met South African president Nelson Madiba Mandela (1994); Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe (2002); and traced her lineage to Senegal’s Falú clan (2009). In 1974, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce named Falú “Woman of the Year in Education” and the New York State Senate honored her as a 2014 “Woman of Distinction.”

In 1969, Falú married Roy A. Hollingsworth (1933-2014), a 1964 Amateur Athletic Association discus champion who competed in the Tokyo Olympics and employed at UPR-RP and the University of the West Indies. They have one son, Rey Hollingsworth Falú. Currently, Dr. Georgina Falú is writing her biography and anticipates launching Africana Diaspora Studies University.