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The Young Lords Changed America


There are so many social movements that don’t get enough attention in our historical memory. One of those is the Young Lords, the Puerto Rican movement in New York and other cities inspired by the Black Panthers and other nationalist revolutionary movements that were as much about providing social care to forgotten communities as political transformations. Here’s a great piece on how the Young Lords changed health care through a 1970 hospital occupation.

On July 14, 1970, members of the Young Lords occupied Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx — known locally as the “Butcher Shop.” A group of activists, many of them in their late teens and 20s, barricaded themselves inside the facility, demanding safer and more accessible health care for the community.

Originally a Chicago-based street gang, the Young Lords turned to community activism, inspired by the Black Panthers and by student movements in Puerto Rico. A Young Lords chapter in New York soon formed, agitating for community control of institutions and land, as well as self-determination for Puerto Rico. Their tactics included direct action and occupations that highlighted institutional failures.

Through archival footage, re-enactments and contemporary interviews, the documentary above shines a light on the Young Lords’ resistance movement and their fight for human rights. The dramatic takeover of Lincoln Hospital produced one of the first Patient’s Bill of Rights, changing patients’ relationship with hospitals and doctors nationwide.

There’s a longer video piece with the story. Check it out if you want.

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