Originally a Chicago street gang, the Young Lords emerged as a civil rights–conscious and political empowerment–minded youth movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, known for its confrontational tactics and radicalism. The Young Lords were founded in September 1968 as a reformed street gang under the leadership of José “Cha Cha” Jiménez, a native of Puerto Rico whose family relocated to Chicago during childhood. The Young Lords drew inspiration from the social activism of the era, such as the black civil rights movement, the anti–Vietnam War movement, and the charisma of Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and others. Jiménez envisioned the Young Lords as a Black Panther–like organization for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos.
Although the Young Lords originated in Chicago and chapters existed in numerous cities throughout the northeast, the New York City chapter became the Young Lords' largest and most notable. The New York City chapter of the Young Lords Party was formally established on July 26, 1969, by several socially conscious Puerto Rican college students after they had traveled to Chicago and personally met with Jiménez.
Founding members included Felipe Luciano, Juan Gonzalez, Mickey Melendez, Denise Oliver, Iris Morales, and Pablo “Yoruba” Guzman. The Young Lords Party adopted a 13-point program as its mission statement in October 1969, which called for the independence of Puerto Rico, an end to U.S. military intervention overseas, an end to racism and economic exploitation,...
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