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.
Reconsidering “Community Control”: Who? What? When? How? Why?
Editors' Note: This is part of a roundtable series,“New Histories of Education in New York City.” For an introduction and overview, click here.
In our fifth post, Dominique Jean-Louis explores another successful independent school created by activist New Yorkers, the Dwayne Brathwaite School in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jean-Louis situates this school amid the changing landscape of parochial schooling and Caribbean immigration in Brooklyn, revealing both unlikely alliances and unexpected successes at a moment typified by failure and fracture.
By Dominique Jean-Louis
On a chilly evening on May 16th, 1973 a group of black parents and three Catholic nuns gathered in the People's Institutional A.M.E. church on 244 Stuyvesant Street in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The recent decision of the Brooklyn Diocese to close several schools in the neighborhood had prompted the parents to brainstorm new options to secure the educational future of their children. The Diocese's decision was upsetting to these Bed-Stuy parents, who felt that the best place for their children were the pre-existing schools, not in new schools, and not in the public schools. After complaints to the principals, priests, and Bishop Francis Mugavero yielded no results, this group of intrepid parents decided to take matters into their own hands and open their own school. While they must have had high hopes that their gathering this night could have a huge impact for the future of their children, this sadly this became true in more ways than one. While his mother, Virginia Brathwaite discussed ideas for the new school, 9-year-old Dwayne Brathwaite was struck by a car on Bainbridge Road and killed.
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