Against the backdrop of America’s escalating urban rebellions in the 1960s, an unexpected cohort of New York radicals unleashed a series of urban guerrilla actions against the city’s racist policies and contempt for the poor. Their dramatic flair, uncompromising vision, and skillful ability to link local problems to international crises riveted the media, alarmed New York’s political class, and challenged nationwide perceptions of civil rights and black power protest. The group called itself the Young Lords.
Utilizing oral histories, archival records, and an enormous cache of police records released only after a decade-long Freedom of Information Law request and a subsequent court battle, Johanna Fernández has written the definitive account of the Young Lords, from their roots as a street gang to their rise and fall as a political organization.
Join the Institute for Policy Studies and Busboys and Poets for a talk and book signing with Johanna of her book The Young Lords: A Radical History, that examines how and why the group, led predominantly by poor and working-class Puerto Rican youth who consciously fashioned themselves after the Black Panther Party, confronted race and class inequality and questioned American foreign policy. Their imaginative, irreverent protests and media conscious tactics won significant reforms and exposed U.S. mainland audiences to the country’s quiet imperial project in Puerto Rico. In riveting style, Fernández demonstrates how the Young Lords redefined the character of protest, the color of politics, and the cadence of popular urban culture in the age of great dreams.
MC for this evening is Makeda Sheffield, a multimedia producer at both RT America and SiriusXM, and a cultural architect with a Bachelors of Science in Communications from Bowie State University. Makeda has a passion for media, self-discovery and cultural exploration with an affinity to encourage new perspectives and spark others to change the world.
Johanna Fernández is assistant professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York and editor of Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In 2014, Dr. Fernández sued the NYPD for its failure to honor her research-driven, Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Her suit led to the recovery of the “lost” Handschu files, the largest repository of police surveillance documents in the country, namely over one million surveillance files of New Yorkers compiled by the NYPD between 1954-1972, including those of Malcolm X.
Co-sponsors: Institute for Policy Studies, Busboys and Poets, Friends of Latin America, National Coalition of Barrios Unidos, Latino Media Collective, and DC AfroLatino Caucus.