Reviewed by Lauren Lefty
The Young Lords have been enjoying their own nuevo despertar in the last few years, as a number of the city’s cultural institutions from El Museo del Barrio to the Bronx Museum hosted exhibits on the late sixties radical Puerto Rican organization. Darrel Wanzer-Serrano’s The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2016) is a welcome addition to this reawakening as the first book-length treatment of the East Coast branch of the party, which also had bases in Newark and Philadelphia in addition to its founding chapter in Chicago. The New York Lords only existed for a brief moment from 1969 to 1976, as a “revolutionary nationalist, antiracist, anti-sexist group who advanced a complex political program featuring support for the liberation of all Puerto Ricans (on the island and in the United States), the broader liberation of all Third World people, equality for women, U.S. demilitarization, leftist political education, redistributive justice, and other programs [that] fit into their ecumenical ideology" (5). Yet as Wanzer-Serrano notes, quoting Raymond Williams, they nonetheless provide “resources of hope” for today’s activists and anyone interested in the history and theory of radical social movements. While this book was published before the political upheavals of 2016, it seems all the more relevant for the current moment.
By Andrew L. Hargroder
The 1790s was a decade marked by conspiracy-mongering in the United States. Polarized visions over the republic’s future inspired a prevailing mood of both revolutionary optimism for humankind and abrasive paranoia. Countering these anxieties, middle- and working-class Americans formed fraternal and literary clubs designed to foster democratic comity and candor as a public discourse. Among New York’s clubs, a new class of citizen took form, which espoused a more inclusive understanding of rights and political engagement. That allowed non-elites, like Richard Bingham Davis, to contribute to the conversation over the republic’s future.
"Tontine Coffee House” (1797) by Francis Guy. Though this coffee house was a site of frequent political clashes between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans throughout the 1790s, it also provide a sense of NYC architecture and the city's lively streets at the time of Davis and the societies’ activities.
By Marjorie Heins
The art collector Peggy Guggenheim had just opened her avant-garde "Art of This Century" gallery on West 57 Street in the fall of 1942 when her friend Marcel Duchamp suggested that she mount an all-woman exhibition. Guggenheim loved the idea: the show would be radical not only because of its composition but because most of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on view would be either abstract or Surrealist in style, as befitted Guggenheim's modernist taste.
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