“The Few Stories” Nelson told us about over dinner
After striving throughout his life, Nelson has blazed a trail 70 years long. By compiling his life experiences in a book, “Judge Díaz” may have drawn a useful road map for the generations now ready to follow him.
All of us who know Nelson Díaz in Philadelphia and across the country might take him for granted.
We assume that, since he has been around “forever,” we not only know him well, but also suppose he will always be there.
Always available, in case we need to ask him about that part of his life we are not sure about; or ask him, even more often, for that additional favor he is always available to furnish, as the good-hearted, trusting and generous man he is.
The truth is that Nelson has reached the age of 70 and, at this apex of his career, he decided to do yet another favor for all of us, unsolicited but extremely gratifying.
He has put in writing what he unpretentiously calls those “few stories that I would tell over dinner and eventually forget,” to be delivered to us in one full collection package, attached to it the huge lesson the 70 years of his life represent— rescued and compiled for posterity in between the 2 hard covers and on the 250 pages of his own autobiography.
The first impression one gets from his book is that none of us know Nelson well enough. Particularly, those of us who has been his acquaintances for decades.
Nelson emerges from the pages of his well written autobiography as a different person— more plausible and authentic, even more generous and humble, the natural result of a man that has been tested, tried hard, thrown out the window more than once and, yet built back up again by these same, most extreme forms of adversity we never heard about before.
In every turn, overcoming suffering and multiple setbacks, the Puerto Rican boy, raised by a single mother in an gang-infested Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City, manages to pick himself up and move on to achieve, first his Accounting Degree in NYC and later his Law Degree at Temple University in Philadelphia; later, his White House Fellowship, in Washington DC; soon after, his Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge position; and, many years later, the seat in the Boardroom of Exelon in Chicago— the same man who could have been made history in a second by a bullet in Brooklyn, now in a position to make history as a decision maker at the very top of one of the largest public companies in the country.
Almost in every stop of his career, he was there as “the first Latino” ever — as he was the first again when, in a final push of his career, he dared to run for Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, only three years ago.
His life journey over 70 years has no doubt blazed a trail, one that the present and future generations who will follow him can learn from, and today, with many more advantages, certainly can improve upon.
Although he might have paved the way for those others to follow, the inner force that has driven Nelson’s life —either endurance of his Taíno blood, or resilience of his Christian faith— is something the new generations can never, ever afford to leave out.
Despite his consecutive and countless defeats, Nelson Diaz comes across at the end of his autobiography unbeaten —“destroyed, but not defeated”— with his known elan undiminished, tendering a priceless gift to his readers, as he approaches the end of his professional journey.
“It is simply my story,” he clarifies, writing in the foreword of his about to be released autobiography.
“...I hope it speaks to those who read it, (and) remind them of what is possible...”