Johanna Fernández on the Young Lords

On April 25, the Zinn Education Project hosted historian Johanna Fernández in conversation with Jesse Hagopian about her book, The Young Lords: A Radical History.

Here are a few reactions from participants:

As a teacher, it’s important to me to present diverse perspectives and stories to my students that they can relate to individually. Being able to teach them about the Young Lords will make my students feel like the history books didn’t forget about them, too.

I am re-energized and I will continue to advocate and raise voices and experiences of Black and Brown lives in my daily life, especially in my graduate studies in a very white school.

Thank you for illuminating the multiple ways in which the Young Lords were groundbreaking in their vision and impact. As a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, I did not learn about the Young Lords in school, but heard about them in random family conversations. It is so important for young Latinxs to see ourselves as integral to the American story and as core leaders in the struggle to secure civil rights for all Americans.

As a 51-year-old Boricua, born and raised on the island, I am moved with pride as I learned about the Young Lords’ brilliance, humanity, and courage. I am also frustrated that I was never taught this in school, so I am looking forward to purchasing the book, and continuing learning and sharing. Thank you! !Pa’lante!

Thank you for teaching us so much about the Young Lords in a relatively short time. I will never forget what I’ve heard tonight about coalition, solidarity, and a long-term vision.

As a queer, Appalachian educator in Chicago, I greatly appreciate the connections revealed to me concerning the intersection of the Young Lords, Fred Hampton & the Young Patriots of Chicago, and the genesis of ACT UP’s actions thanks to the Young Lords!

Highlights

Here are some main points of the session from the tweet thread by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, high school teacher and Zinn Education Project team member.

Video

Video of the full event, except the breakout sessions.

Audio

Listen to the recording of the session on these additional platforms.

Overcast Logo Google Podcasts Logo Pocket Casts Logo


Resources

Here are many of the lessons, books, articles, and more recommended by the presenters and also by participants.

Lessons and Curricula

Other groups targeted by COINTELPRO | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

What We Don’t Learn About the Black Panther Party — but Should” by Adam Sanchez and Jesse Hagopian (Zinn Education Project, If We Knew Our History)

Why We Should Teach About the FBI’s War on the Civil Rights Movement” by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca (Zinn Education Project, If We Knew Our History)

Books

In addition to Johanna Fernández’s The Young Lords: A Radical History and the Social Justice Books Puerto Rico book list, the following books and booklists were referenced:

Children and Young Adults

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic Press)

Vicki and A Summer of Change! ¡Vicki y un verano de cambio! by Raquel M. Ortiz and Iris Morales

Adults

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzales (Penguin Group)

The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation by Darrel Wanzer-Serrano (Temple University Press)

Palante: Young Lords Party by the Young Lords Party (Haymarket Books)

Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976 by Iris Morales (Red Sugarcane Press)

The Young Lords: A Reader edited by Darrel Enck-Wanzer (New York University Press)

We Took the Streets: Fighting for Latino Rights with the Young Lords by Miguel Melendez (Rutgers University Press)

Articles and Reports

Women of the Young Lords

Chicago 1969: When Black Panthers Aligned With Confederate-flag-wielding, working-class whites” by Colette Gaiter (The Conversation)

Eddie Palmieri’s ‘Live at Sing Sing’ Turns 50 This Year” by Alex La Rotta (Washington Post)

Fighting Machismo: Two versions of the Young Lords’ 13-Point Program” (New York Historical Society Museum & Library)

For the People’s Health: Lessons from the Young Lords for Today’s New York” by Lauren Lefty (Museum of the City of New York)

Former Young Lords Reflect on Protests, Racism and Police Violence” by Daniel Parra (City Limits)

How the Young Lords Brought the Revolution to Drug Treatment” by Valeria Ricciulli (Curbed)

How the Young Lords Fought for Health Care Access and Won” by Marissa Lemar (Teen Vogue)

“Takeover”: New Doc Chronicles Historic 1970 Young Lords Occupation of Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx” by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!)

When the Young Lords Put Garbage on Display to Demand Change” by Johanna Fernández (History.com)

The Young Lords’ Public Health Revolution” by Johanna Fernández (NACLA Report on the Americas)

This Day In History

Sept. 23, 1968: Young Lords Founded

July 1, 1970: The Lincoln Pediatric Collective Forms to Serve Bronx Community

July 14, 1970: Young Lords Occupy Lincoln Hospital

Films

Dope is Death (film and podcast, 2020) (watch on YouTube)

The First Rainbow Coalition (2019)

Palante, Siempre Palante! (1996) (corresponding Youth Outreach Toolkit)

Takeover (2021) (watch on YouTube)

Participant Reflections

What was the most important thing (story, idea) you learned today?

I enjoyed learning about the post WWII connections/intersections between Operation Bootstrap, federal laws/policies encouraging the establishment of corporate footholds in Puerto Rico, the impact on agricultural workers that were not absorbed into the new industrial jobs, and the related policy push to get unemployed Puerto Ricans to leave the island. I found that information helped to more fully explain the wave of migration of Puerto Ricans in the 1950s-70s, but also the capitalist and geopolitical imperial policies impacting Puerto Rico and the diaspora.

I also enjoyed the explanation of the growth of consumerism in the 1950s as an underlying cause of the neglect of sanitation services to Puerto Rican communities and the strategy to confront that neglect with the garbage protests.

I found the information to be a valuable reminder of the anti-colonial and anti-imperial centering of the Young Lords vision, and that that was a core focus that helped build bridges of solidarity between racial, ethnic, and poor/working class activists.

The significance of representation and mutual respect for people of different nationalities.

The most important thing I learned was that on a very deep level the Young Lords and Black Panthers were very conscious of what their communities’ needs were and how to best respond to those needs.

I appreciated Dr. Fernández’s early comment about the Young Lords’ unique approach in their accessible activism, asking community members what they needed and actually acting on community needs. Her point on the deep understanding that the Young Lords had of their living environment (the church, school, hospital, etc.), is all the more relevant today when environments can continue to be an oppressor.

How women pushed the Young Lords to embrace more radical positions on women’s issues, dropping the “revolutionary machismo” in the 13-Point Program to replace it with “down with machismo.”

What will you do with what you learned?

I want to encourage teachers at my school to have students study the Young Lords through access points like The Takeover and The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.

My students will learn to make connections between marginalized communities and the importance of working in solidarity.

Besides equipping my students with the skills to burn down the system, I will continue to make connections between their struggle and the struggles of “los de mas.” I also learned or reaffirmed that the “answer” is more action-oriented learning! It’s not enough to just learn this history, this next generation needs to be able to DO something with it.

I will teach how much has been and can be accomplished through multiracial coalitions and strategic community organizing.

I have a better understanding of the Young Lords to share with students, and more importantly, incorporate the concept of coalition-building as a front and center tactic that is universal to successful movements.

I plan to continue to teach the truth about the Young Lords using the new resources I learned about and the information I gained from this session with Dr. Johanna Fernández. In my class, we read aloud the book The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. We teach about the Young Lords by visiting The Museum of the City of New York’s exhibit on the Young Lords (except we did not visit this year because of the pandemic). I have been looking for resources that I could use with and modify for my fifth grade ICT class. I took notes from Dr. Fernández today. I plan to buy her book and look into the resources shared by the participants in the chat. This was very enlightening!!

Presenters

Johanna Fernández is associate professor of History at Baruch College of the City University of New York. She is the author of The Young Lords: A Radical History and the editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal. With Mumia Abu-Jamal, she co-edited a special issue of the journal Socialism and Democracy, titled The Roots of Mass Incarceration in the U.S.: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor.

Jesse Hagopian teaches Ethnic Studies and is the co-adviser to the Black Student Union at Garfield High School in Seattle. He is an editor for Rethinking Schools, the co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives, and editor of More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing.

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