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Young Lords in a new era, a celebration in Chicago

By Tom Burke

Chicago, Illinois – The New Era Young Lords are hosting a “Celebration of Jose ‘Cha-Cha’ Jimenez,” the founder of the Young Lords in Chicago. On June 4, family and friends will join the Young Lords to honor Jose “Cha-Cha” Jimenez, who is currently in elder care.

The Young Lords were founded in 1968 in Chicago and spread rapidly to other U.S. cities, especially New York City. In the 1950s, large numbers of Puerto Ricans were displaced by U.S. colonialism from their small island nation where the U.S. military and big corporations still dominate today. People concentrated in big cities where their labor was needed, but issues arose with discrimination and poor housing, education and health care.

In Chicago 1968, Puerto Ricans in the Lincoln Park found themselves being displaced again by real estate investors and bankers. The Young Lords under Cha-Cha Jimenez’s leadership transformed a neighborhood gang into a revolutionary organization that led protests and building takeovers against displacement of the community.

Inspired by the Black Panther Party and Fred Hampton in particular, the Young Lords challenged police murders and crimes. They demanded childcare programs and education, equality and fairness in society, using a local Methodist Church as their headquarters. They also protested the U.S. war in Vietnam, and then formed the Rainbow Coalition with the Black Panthers and others.

The celebration will feature many of the original leaders of the Young Lords who are still active in Chicago, Milwaukee, Tampa and New York. They plan to pass the torch to the New Era Young Lords coming from more than seven cities and Puerto Rico. The New Era Young Lords plan to continue the organizing work of the Young Lords, demanding independence for Puerto Rico, and opposing police killings and repression.

The event flyer reads, “The new era continues the struggle for self-determination of all oppressed people atop the legacy of our elders. Join us as the new era recounts the people's revolutionary history to honor and continue the legacy of the Young Lords and Jose ‘Cha Cha’ Jimenez. Pa'lanté!”

There will music and dance, poetry and speeches, food and beverages, from 12 to 5 p.m. on June 4 at Little Cubs Field, Humboldt Park, Chicago.

#ChicagoIL #ChicanoLatino #YoungLordsParty