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Puerto Rico En Mi Corázon: Young Lords/Puerto Rican Radical Nationalists During the Late 20th Century


This dissertation examines the development of the Young Lords Movement. Initially founded as the Young Lords Organization in Chicago in 1968, it quickly spread into New York and multiple cities along the east coast and the mid-west, and attracted Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Chicanos and other Latin Americans as members. The Young Lords platform and protests demanded political power, community control of neighborhoods and institutions, and independence for Puerto Rico. Although most studies place the Young Lords solely within the confines of radical movements in the United States, my work situates island politics and the colonial status of Puerto Rico at the center. It also positions the Young Lords within histories of the Caribbean and broadly, Latin America, as well as the New Left of the United States.

This study makes a number of additional interventions, bringing together the history of the Young Lords' founders in Chicago, their spread into other mid-west cities, along the east coast and into Puerto Rico. Rather than presenting a regional study, this dissertation shifts the focus on the Young Lords Movement, comprised of the Young Lords Organization and the Young Lords Party. I position the Young Lords as a transnational movement, one whose direct actions and ideology included Puerto Rico. Uniquely, the Young Lords embraced feminist, anti-racist, and socialist ideologies, coupled with a nationalist perspective. This re-formulation of ideas relative to race and gender adds an important dimension to this dissertation. I bring to this study my experiences as a participant observer. This insight, coupled with my analysis of primary sources, challenges narratives that misrepresent or oversimplify the character and workings of the various branches.

My project draws on multiple collections and examines documents from archives in Puerto Rico, Chicago, New York, Berkeley, and Stanford. It also makes use of declassified FBI files, Nationalist Party records, private collections, periodicals and the surveillance records of Puerto Rican Insular Police. In addition to textual sources, this study uses visual documents such as photographs and posters. Moreover, it incorporates poetry as a historical reference, and in deference to its importance in Young Lords' iconography.

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