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The Young Lords

A Reader

Darrel Enck-Wanzer, Iris Morales, Denise Oliver-Velez

Publication Year: 2010

The Young Lords, who originated as a Chicago street gang fighting gentrification and unfair evictions in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, burgeoned into a national political movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with headquarters in New York City and other centers in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, and elsewhere in the northeast and southern California. Part of the original Rainbow Coalition with the Black Panthers and Young Patriots, the politically radical Puerto Ricans who constituted the Young Lords instituted programs for political, social, and cultural change within the communities in which they operated.

The Young Lords offers readers the opportunity to learn about this vibrant organization through their own words and images, collecting an array of their essays, journalism, photographs, speeches, and pamphlets. Organized topically and thematically, this volume highlights the Young Lords' diverse and inventive activism around issues such as education, health care, gentrification, police injustice and gender equality, as well as self-determination for Puerto Rico.

In recovering these rare written and visual materials, Darrel Enck-Wanzer has given voice to the lost chorus of the Young Lords, while providing an indispensable resource for students, scholars, activists, and others interested in learning about this influential grassroots “street political” organization.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vii

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Foreword: Why Read the Young Lords Today?

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pp. ix-xiii

“¡El Pueblo Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido! The People United, Shall Never be Defeated!” Ten thousand people chanted and marched through the streets of El Barrio heading downtown on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The Young Lords had called the march to the United...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction: Toward Understanding the Young Lords

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pp. 1-7

In 1968, over half a century after U.S. citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans against the will of a democratically elected House of Delegates on the Island, Boricuas in the United States continued to face hard times. Economic conditions were lean: jobs were hard to come by...

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1. Young Lords Platform and Rules

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pp. 9-15

Modeling themselves in large part after the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords articulated a set of core principles that helped secure a direction for the organization and offered a resource for what today would be called “talking points.” The “13 Point Program and Platform” was used...

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2. The Ideology of the Young Lords Party

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pp. 16-26

This chapter reproduces part of a booklet, by the same title, that the Young Lords circulated among themselves, “friends of the Lords,” and community members. The essays contained in this chapter lay out key theoretical and practical commitments of the Young Lords. ...

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3. The Origins and History of the Young Lords

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pp. 27-70

This chapter contains a selection of resources that helps to chart the evolution of the Young Lords from their beginnings in Chicago to their various phases in New York and beyond. This chapter begins with an interview of the Chicago Young Lords Organization founder Cha Cha...

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4. On History

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pp. 71-124

The Young Lords was a historically minded organization. Because Puerto Rico has such a complex and troubled colonial past, the Young Lords worked actively to construct a serviceable history of Puerto Rican and “Third World” activism in the United States and abroad. ...

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5. On Education and Students

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pp. 125-132

In New York, it was principally young people who had been attending various colleges in the state who founded the Young Lords; that said, the Young Lords was a community organization, not a student organization. Doing work in their immediate communities, the Young Lords...

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6. On Revolution, Nationalism, and Revolutionary Nationalism

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pp. 133-162

The Young Lords considered themselves “revolutionary nationalists,” which is a complex term. Eschewing reactionary or exclusionary nationalist politics, the Young Lords’ brand of nationalism seemed to translate into two theoretical commitments. First, they favored Puerto Rican...

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7. On Women in the Revolution

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pp. 163-184

When the New York Young Lords organization was founded in the summer of 1969, it filled a need for progressive Puerto Rican activism that had been created when the first generation of militants was driven underground by McCarthyism in the 1950s. In the beginning, however...

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8. The Garbage Offensive

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pp. 185-187

Garbage collection was a significant problem in communities such as El Barrio/East Harlem. Streets were littered with debris of both the conventional (waste paper, food, plastics, etc.) and unconventional (cars, tires, glass, sinks, etc.) kinds. The first issue the newly formed New York...

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9. Health and Hospitals

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pp. 188-201

Adequate health care for the poor was one of the chief demands of the Young Lords. Faced with a health-care crisis on various fronts, the Young Lords (together with the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement) started lead poisoning and tuberculosis testing programs, took over Lincoln...

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10. The People’s Church

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pp. 202-217

Based on (a) their platform commitment to “community control” of local institutions and land and (b) the leadership of the Chicago branch of the organization, the New York Young Lords twice seized a conservative local church in the middle of El Barrio. Located at the intersection of 111th...

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11. Social Justice Programs

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pp. 218-230

The Young Lords were committed to fighting for social justice on all fronts. Like the Black Panthers, they ran various clothing and food programs to serve the poor people of their communities. They were stalwart antidrug advocates because they saw first-hand the impact of...

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12. Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization

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pp. 231-244

In 1972, the Young Lords transformed themselves into the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization—an internationalist labor organization that followed closely the writings of Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Marx, and Engels. The transformation into the PRRWO represented a dramatic...

Bibliography of Materials on the Young Lords

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pp. 245-246


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pp. 247-251

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About the Editor

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p. 253

Darrel Enck-Wanzer is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Texas.

E-ISBN-13: 9780814722930
E-ISBN-10: 0814722938
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814722411
Print-ISBN-10: 0814722415

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 676697646
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Young Lords

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Subject Headings

  • New York (N.Y.) -- Biography.
  • Readers.
  • Young Lords (Organization) -- History -- Sources.
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -- Social conditions -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Political activists -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Ethnic relations -- Sources.
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