William Anthony Colón Román was bom in New York City on April 28, 1950. His mother Aracelis was only 16 years old when Colón was born. He was raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents, Antonia Román Pintor and Feliciano Román, in the Bronx, New York. Both his mother and his grandmother worked as laborers in New York factories. His experience witnessing their hardships as workers was influential in the development of his social conscience, which would later be reflected both in his political activism and in his songs.