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"Forward, Sisters, in the Struggle!": Gender Politics in the Young Lords Party, 1969-1976

By Alejandra M. Alvarez


1960s America was an era defined by the eruption of an array of political, cultural and\ud social movements. With the intensification of the war in Vietnam and the growing\ud dissatisfaction with the Civil Rights Movement's inability to create institutionalized change,\ud students across the country took to the streets, protesting an array of social injustices and demanding change. In the midst of all of this social turmoil and political energy, the young\ud Puerto Rican men and women of the Young Lords Party established themselves as a socialist\ud Puerto Rican nationalist group from 1969 to 1976, focusing much of their efforts on empowering\ud the poor, marginalized, Puerto Rican communities of New York City through their community-based\ud "serve the people" programs. Throughout this thesis, I aim to explore the gender politics and integration of a feminist discourse within the Young Lords Party's revolutionary nationalist rhetoric. I argue that the women of the Young Lords Party initiated a feminist struggle within the party, urging it to incorporate a radical intersectional politics around race, class, sexuality and gender into their nationalist agenda. Due to the multifaceted nature of intersectional identity\ud politics, these women developed a sense of political agency within the party via a complex\ud intersectional way that also simultaneously made it more difficult for them to negotiate their own identity politics. As a paramilitary nationalist organization, the party's militant hypermasculine\ud nationalist rhetoric both furthered and challenged this radical feminist discourse

Year: 2011
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