Nace en Ponce, Puerto Rico, el 24 de octubre de 1936, hijo de Doña Dorinda Colón Clavell y Don Rafael Hernández Matos. Está casado con Doña Lila Mayoral y es padre de cuatro hijos: Rafael, José Alfredo, Dora Mercedes y Juan Eugenio.
Rafael Hernández Colón was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on the 24th of October, 1936, son of Doña Dorinda Colón Clavell and Don Rafael Hernández Matos. He is married to Doña Lila Mayoral with whom he has four children: Rafael, losé Alfredo, Dora Mercedes and Juan Eugenio.
He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree, with Honors, from John Hopkins University and obtained his Doctor of Laws, magna cum laude, from the University of Puerto Rico, Rlo Piedras.
He began his public service at the age of 24, when he was named Associate Commissioner of Public Service of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In 1965 he was appointed Justice Secretary by Governor Roberto Sánchez Vilella. In 1968 he was elected Senator and became President of the Senate in 1969.
At the age of 36 he was elected Governor of Puerto Rico and was selected by Time Magazine as one of the World's 150 most distinguished leaders. In 1984, and again in 1988, he was re-elected Governor of Puerto Rico.
In the field of education, he has been a professor at Granada University Spain, the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and the University Puerto Rico. He is a Trustee of Johns Hopkins University.
Among his publications he is known for the Manual de Derecho Procesal; La Nueva Tesis, Estrategia para el Desarrollo Integral de Puerto Rico; and Retos y Luchas, Principales discursos en su contexto histórico.
He has received innumerable awards, including: Gran Cruz de la Orden Duarte, Sánchez y Mella given by the goverment of the Dominican Republic; Gran Cruz de Isabel La Católica conferred personally by King Juan (Carlos I Spain; Gran Cordón de la Orden del Liberador de Venezuela; Medalla de Oro from the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science z Culture; the Orden Olímpica of the International Olympic Committee, and the Medalla de Oro from the Alcalá de Henares University in Spain. On behalf the people of Puerto Rico, he received the Principe de Asturias Awaroi in 1991.