By Ismael NúñezJuly 26th 201, a great day and a great victory for the community! That day the YOUNG LORDS! were remembered and honored when former memebers of the YOUNG LORDS chapters from New York City, Chicago, and Connecticut were present as the block of East 111th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues was dedicated to the Young Lords right across from the First Spanish Methodist Church located at 163 E 111th St New York, NY 10029. Why the street naming in the area one asks? Keep reading below the pictures.
August 21, 2014
Carlito Rovira, former member of the Young Lords (and still an activist), said it best (you can read all of it on Facebook) "The Lords repeatedly pleaded with parishioners for space in order to feed hungry children, but to no avail. This church was closed throughout the week and only opened for a few hours for worshipping by a congregation that mostly lived out of town. Backed by community sentiment, the Young Lords entered the church during a Sunday mass and expelled the congregation. Using the church as a base, the Young Lords operated a free childcare service, breakfast program and legal clinic. Medical services were also provided." That takeover put the Young Lords on the map. To this day the church has become one of the major tourist attractions in East Harlem, on the subject of Puerto Ricans, Civil Rights, and Radicalism within the Latin American Community here in New York City.
Miguel Meléndez another former member of the Young Lords (and author of the book We Took the Streets! Fighting for Latino Rights with the Young Lords), one of the organizers and one of the MC's, "This is still the people's church, and now it's your history and the community's history forever!" Seeing these other former members as they stood proudly taking pictures, signing autographs, made everyone that day feel proud to be a PUERTO RICAN and LATIN AMERICAN! Remember their saying "TENGO PUERTO RICO EN MI CORAZON! I HAVE PUERTO IN MY HEART!
Richie Pérez, former member and longtime activist, was remembered that day. I remember he stated, "Being in the movement, struggle keeps you stronger, and younger inside" He was so right! Seeing most former members they have not aged at all!
Iris Morales, former YLP Deputy Minister of Education, attorney, filmmaker (who put together a fine film on the Young Lords titled ¡PALANTE, SIEMPRE PALANTE!: The Young Lords) who along with other former female members of the Lords read quotes from her book on the Lords: PALANTE: The Young Lords Party (a book I recommend the updated version). "The Palante book reminds us of the revolutionary vision that young Puerto Ricans, Latino/as, and African-Americans in the United States fought for in the 1960's and 1970's. We want a society where the needs of the people come first, and where we give solidarity and aid to the people of the world."
Seeing these Lords, one can see they've never aged, they still have Young Lords in them, and continue to inspire youth everywhere! The church today is one of the most popular tourist attractions in East Harlem! Now the street dedication right there on 111th street and Lexington Avenue, a victory for all! PALANTE! Y SIEMPRE PALANTE!