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.
“Invaders”: Black Ladies of the ILGWU and the Emergence of the Early Civil Rights Movement in New York City
By Janette Gayle
Black female industrial workers are strikingly absent from literature on the Great Migration and black industrial labor in the twentieth century. Studies like Joe William Trotter Jr.’s Black Milwaukee, James R. Grossman’s Land of Hope, Richard W. Thomas’s Life for Us Is What We Make It, and Peter Gottlieb’s Making Their Own Way have advanced our understanding of black industrial workers and their importance in the making of black communities in the Midwest and northern urban industrial cities, but they focus almost exclusively on the experiences of skilled men. Skilled women are virtually absent from these studies. But women were there. If we look closely at the sources, another picture comes into focus, one in which women such as Maida Springer Kemp, Eldica Riley, Edith Ransom, and thousands of others were indeed part of the black industrial workforce in New York City. If we look closely we will also see that the Great Migration was not a completely unskilled migration. Many migrants -- men as well as women -- were skilled workers. The ones who caught my eye were the dressmakers.
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