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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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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

The Garbage Offensive

The Garbage Offensive

(p.91) Chapter Three The Garbage Offensive
The Young Lords

Johanna Fernández

University of North Carolina Press

In summer of 1969, the NY Young Lords launched an ambitious course of community-based protests, involving thousands of residents in East Harlem. They addressed many of the social problems underscored, but unsolved, by the War on Poverty. Their legendary “Garbage Offensive,” name in deference to the Tet Offensive of the Vietnamese, the group barricaded major throughways with East Harlem’s uncollected garbage. It exposed environmental racism and impugned city government for treating Puerto Ricans and Black Americans like garbage. It’s combination of urban guerrilla protest with sharp political messaging pressured politicians to respond, and poor sanitation services became a major issue in the run-up to the heated mayoral elections in November 1969. Although histories of the civil rights and black power movements are popularly understood within the framework of citizenship rights, the work of organizations like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords paint a portrait of struggle that is more composite. They show that the black movement set in motion an awakening of social consciousness wherein virtually no social issue escaped public scrutiny. The Young Lords’ campaigns established standards of decency in city services that expanded the definition of the common good and stretched our nation’s definition of democracy.

Keywords:   Garbage Protests, Garbage Offensive, War on Poverty, Tet Offensive, Urban Guerrilla, Community Protests, Environmental Racism, Social Consciousness, Common Good, City Services

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