Harlem’s Young Lords


An article by Jennifer Lee in The New York Times highlights the history of the Young Lords, a group that used confrontational tactics to bring services and attention to the primarily Puerto Rican residents of East Harlem, or El Barrio, and beyond. Here’s an excerpt from the article, followed by a link:

Many of the members of the Young Lords were the children of rural migrants from Puerto Rico who arrived in New York in the 1930s and 1940s. “We were the linchpin between the cane cutters and Sotomayor,” said Felipe Luciano, the founding chairman of the Young Lords in New York City. “We started from the same pool as Sotomayor. We started in the projects. Many of us were working-class kids.”

The campaigns electrified the Puerto Rican community and generated headlines, bringing abuelas and abuelos out into the streets to cheer. “Had we all not raised a little hell, we might not have fanned the spark within Sotomayor that made her want to connect to her people,” Mr. Guzmán said. “I guarantee you a 16-or-so-year-old Sonia Sotomayor heard about it.

Inspired by the Black Panther Party, the militant black civil rights organization founded in Oakland, Calif., in 1966, Mr. Luciano said he originally thought about starting a group called the Brown Tigers, but members of the Black Panthers, he said, told him to “Do your own thing.” So early in the summer of 1969, a group of New York Puerto Ricans drove in a Volkswagen to Chicago, where the Young Lords had its origins in a 1950s gang that eventually took on a more political character, for permission to start a chapter in New York. (The New York group eventually split off from the Chicago faction in 1970.)

You can access the article at http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/the-young-lords-legacy-of-puerto-rican-activism/

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