¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York


“On July 26, 1969, a group of young Latinos stood in the band shell in Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, and made an announcement. They were founding a New York branch of a revolution-minded political party called the Young Lords. Inspired by the Black Panthers and an earlier street-gang-turned-activist Young Lords group in Chicago, their purpose was to gain social justice for New York’s working-class Latino population, then largely Puerto Rican and treated with contempt by the city government. Most of the members onstage that day were recent college graduates well versed in leftist political theory. To gain the trust and cooperation of Latino communities — concentrated in the East Village, East Harlem and the South Bronx — they knew they needed to get their feet on the street, and they wasted no time. The next day they started a ‘garbage offensive’ in East Harlem, the Barrio, pulling mounds of trash left festering by the city’s sanitation department into the middle of Third Avenue and setting the refuse alight. Local residents pitched in. In October of that year, the Young Lords teamed up with a band of mostly black and Latino hospital personnel to force improvements in labor conditions and medical services for the poor at Gouverneur Hospital on the Lower East Side. (Six months later, they would take over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx for the same reasons.) In December, they occupied an East Harlem church and, until the police evicted them, turned it into a food dispensary and free clinic by day and a performance space for music, poetry readings and history lessons at night. By that point they had started a newspaper, Palante. (The name, a contraction of ‘para adelante,’ means ‘forward’ or ‘right on.’) Bilingual and published every two weeks, it was a color tabloid with some of the jazziest graphics around. You’ll find dozens of copies covering the walls in the tripartite exhibition ‘¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.’ Spread over three institutions — the Bronx Museum of the Arts; El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem; and Loisaida Inc., a cultural center in the East Village — this show departs from straight political history by presenting the Young Lords as a cultural phenomenon as well as an ideological one, with a highly developed instinct for visual self-projection, right down to having an official party photographer, the gifted Hiram Maristany. …”
NY Times: When the Young Lords Were Outlaws in New York by Holland Cotter (July 23, 2015)
WSJ: The Art and Activism of the Young Lords
Bronx Museum
ART and POLITICS NOW
PBS: Puerto Rican radical group Young Lords retake NYC in museum exhibit


The exhibition ‘¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York,’ held in three parts at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and Loisaida Inc., recalls the Young Lords, a revolution-minded group that gained traction in the late ’60s and ’70s.

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