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The Young LordsA Radical History$
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Johanna Fernández

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653440

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653440.001.0001

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Coming of Age in the 1960s

Coming of Age in the 1960s

The Emergence of the New York Young Lords

(p.49) Chapter Two Coming of Age in the 1960s
The Young Lords

Johanna Fernández

University of North Carolina Press

In New York, a circle of Puerto Rican students read a Black Panther newspaper interview with Cha Cha, took a road trip to meet the Chicago gang leader turned revolutionary, and got permission to launch a chapter of the organization in New York. In search of an organizing agenda in East Harlem, they discovered who their parents were and why over 1/3 of them had left Puerto Rico. In 1947, Operation Bootstrap, A US-led industrialization project of the island displaced more farmers than it absorbed into the new economy. A contingency plan encouraged their mass migration to cities like New York, where 70% of Puerto Ricans became proletarianized as superexploited workers in the city’s garment industry. Soon, they encountered displacements in housing and due to urban industrial decline. They wrestled with medical discrimination in the public hospitals and overt racism in the classroom. In 1967, the killing of a Puerto Rican man by police led to the East Harlem riots. The early childhood experiences of the Young Lords in the streets, in the schools, and as language and cultural translators for their parents radicalized them emotionally and compelled the evangelical commitment with which they launched their activism as young adults.

Keywords:   Puerto Rican, East Harlem, Operation Bootstrap, East Harlem riots, Police Brutality, Migration, Cultural Translators, Language Translators

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