About Antonio Barrios

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Antonio Barrios was invited to attend a dinner with Mexican Ambassador at the Consulate in Detroit. He had organized the temporary ID cards for Mexican immigrants.


Antonio Barrios in a meeting with Oberlin College Professor Adrian Bautista (pictured on the left) and Professor Gina Pérez--among others--about the Latinx Oral History course at Oberlin College.


Antonio Barrios in a radio station.


Antonio Barrios in his office space at LAC.

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Antonio Barrios' campaign flyer from when he ran for a seat on Lorain's City Council in 2019.

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Antonio Barrios celebrating being awarded the Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan from OCHLA in Columbus.

Antonio Barrios was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and experienced his first memories on the island until he moved to Lorain, Ohio around the age of 5. His father being one of the first 500 Puerto Rican men recruited to come and work at the steel mill at the US Steel Corporation, it wasn’t easy being some of the first Puerto Ricans to make a home in Lorain. Not knowing the language and looking different from many of the other kids in school, he and his friends as well all of their families were the victims of bullying and discrimination, but they always knew how to stay united and stand up for themselves. 

A fantastic student, after finishing high school he decided to join the military. Following a traumatic stint overseas, Barrios decided it was time to turn a new page and he moved to New York City. Here Barrios worked as a flight attendant, but soon enough he caught the eye of iconic modeling agent and head honcho in the fashion industry, Zoli, and he made his way to Europe where he spent the following 20 years soaking in the arts, learning new languages, and having the time of his life. 

When he returned to Lorain County, Barrios noticed the absence of any arts programs and took it upon himself to found the Lorain Arts Council. The art gallery is self-described as “Artists living & working in Lorain & Lorain County engaged in promote [sic] the Arts and creating a positive nurturing environment for the Arts and the future” in the Northern Ohio area. In promoting the arts, the organization engages in “active participation and involvement in local and regional events” as well as creating occasions “for the Arts to be enjoyed, displayed and performed” (Facebook). During COVID, Barrios has had the gallery host stand-up comedy events—outside and socially distanced—bringing the community together in a time when it can sometimes feel impossible. 

Beyond his role in the arts Barrios is always doing something for the Lorain and Latinx communities. Barrios is a very active community member in South Lorain—trying to get people politically active and organizing them to run for office. He has been hugely successful in this, once increasing his ward’s voter registration rate by 50%. From working with El Centro, to collaborating with peers in order to award Congressional Medals to Puerto Rican veterans, to running for Lorain’s Council at large with aspirations of having a larger impact on South Lorain and in helping Broadway downtown with the arts, Barrios has poured his soul into Lorain’s community. But, he’s never lost the travel bug, and Mr. Barrios believes there is more out there for him in the world to discover and experience. Not losing sight, however, of his aspirations of establishing Lorain as a tourist city, taking advantage of the lake and the city’s amazing restaurants and stores. Barrios greatly looks forward to the day when Lorain is flourishing once again, and he is positively overflowing with ideas about how to make this happen. While we can’t be sure what the future holds for Antonio Barrios, we do know one thing—it will be noteworthy. 

See Antonio's complete oral history.

About Antonio Barrios