'An important voice'
The night before her death, Prida excitedly talked about future projects with Sotomayor and other friends at the party.
"As always, she was filled with life and plans for the engaging work she was involved in," Sotomayor said in a statement after learning of Prida's death Sunday. "Dolores was a visionary. As a writer she inspired us to think deeply about our culture."
In 2009, Prida printed T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Wise Latina" -- a phrase Sotomayor had used that drew sharp criticism from some lawmakers during her confirmation hearings. For Prida, the description was a point of pride. She gave the T-shirts to Latina leaders and wrote a column about Sotomayor's success.
"We thank her for the term 'Wise Latina.' It is going to stay around for a long while," Prida wrote in the New York Daily News. "For the first time, Latinas who, for close to a century, have been stereotyped as temperamental hot tamales or inarticulate maids and cooks, have a label they want to hold onto."
New York's El Diario newspaper, which ran a regular opinion column by Prida, called her "an important voice for the Hispanic community in the Big Apple."
"She was ahead of her time in the sense that she's been making the case for Latinos in the U.S. for a long time. Now it's sort of in the news, but 20 years ago Dolores was already writing about Latinos," said Junco, who for years edited columns Prida wrote for the New York Daily News. "She always made the case that we, the Latinos, were an important part of America today, and that was only going to grow."
Her death was unexpected, and the cause was unclear, Junco said. Prida left Saturday night's party because she didn't feel well, then called her sister, telling her she had chest pain.
According to Junco, as paramedics took her to the hospital, Prida described the night's festivities.
"I was at a party," she told them. "I was dancing of joy."