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Hispanic Heritage Month: The Young Lords Party


The Young Lords Party was a Puerto Rican nationalist organization that was prominent in the late 60s and 70s in New York City, inspired by the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Organization in Chicago. Their mission was to always serve the people and rebuild community structures in majority Puerto Rican neighborhoods such as East Harlem, the Lower East Side and the South Bronx.

The infamous Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, was known for its insufferable conditions: 72-hour wait periods, language barriers between medical staff and the patients, rat infestations, and numerous health hazards. It was the only facility that served the community that was largely made up of African Americans and Puerto Ricans. On July 1,1970, Carmen Rodriguez, a 31-year-old Puerto Rican woman was the first person to die due to a second-trimester legal abortion after the New York law passed 18 days before, removing the restrictions for persons 17 and older within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. This death ignited the Young Lords to mobilize, resulting in one of the most prominent grassroots community organizing of their tenure.

Thirteen days later, the Young Lords successfully took over the hospital for about 12 hours. During that time, they were conducting lead and TB detections, and a preventive medicine clinic was set up. The takeover allowed for the organization to get through to the government with a list of demands that included, but was not limited to the Lincoln Detox: an acupuncture- detoxification program that used acupuncture instead of methadone to treat heroin and alcohol addicts.

The hospital occupation was a high-profile case with widespread media coverage, exposing the deplorable conditions and prompting systemic change. It was one of the most prominent moments of organization that the Young Lords conducted against a system that continuously worked to keep underprivileged communities on the margins.

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