About Ismael Hernandez

Ismael Hernandez is the founder and president of The Freedom & Virtue Institute. He was born into a communist household in Puerto Rico, his father being a founding member of the Socialist Party on the island. Growing up hearing that America and capitalism were the enemies of humanity, he joined the party as a teen. As he attended church, a double consciousness soon developed: God and Marx, revolution and church. Wanting to merge both he eventually joined the Jesuit Order in the mid-80s to study for priesthood, where so many were Marxists. After having to leave the seminary unexpectedly, he soon landed at the University of Southern Mississippi as a Black communist young man hating America. A transformation of consciousness began as he explored new ideas, and after several years of experiencing a new understanding of the human person, social processes and economics, and reading what before was heresy—Hayek, Sowell, Mises, many others—Ismael renounced the ideas of socialism—to a great personal loss, a relationship with his communist father.

As he renounced socialism and began to work among the poor in the United States, he discovered that the ideology he was surrendering remained alive and well in poor communities. He found that Americans were abandoning liberty for the siren calls of collectivism. To challenge this, he worked in an inner city ministry in Florida for fifteen years until he founded the Freedom & Virtue Institute in 2009. The Institute exists to
challenge the paternalistic, condescending, dependency-incentivizing statist way of attending the problems of poverty in America.

He regularly lectures for the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has lectured with the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, the Foundation for Government Accountability, and the Foundation for Economic Education. His writings have appeared in Acton Notes, Acton’s Religion & Liberty, Crisis Magazine, World Magazine, the Washington Times, and the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. He is the author of the book Not Tragically Colored: Freedom, Personhood, and the Renewal of Black America. Ismael holds a Masters Degree in Political Science and lives in Fort Myers with his wife and three children.

Essays by Ismael Hernandez: