Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Amanda I. Seligman

Committee Members

Rachel I. Buff, Daniel N. McClure


Black Panthers, Gangs, Lincoln Park, Puerto Rican Nationalism, Urban Renewal, Young Lords


The Young Lords began as a street "gang" in the early 1960s in the western Puerto Rican section of Chicago's Lincoln Park community area. In late 1968, some of the group's leaders began to embrace radical politics and the Young Lords changed from a social group into a political organization. By examining the various factors that led to the politicization of the group's leaders and informed their organizing, this thesis works to provide a better understanding of the Young Lords movement. More specifically, this study looks at how local social pressures, traditions of radical organizing, and efforts to forge collective identities all worked to influence the genesis, development, and political ideas of the Young Lords movement. In doing so, it identifies and discusses three major influences upon the group's political analysis and major activities. First, this thesis demonstrates that Young Lords members were shaped by a history of colonization and resistance to colonial subjugation, both in Puerto Rico and in Chicago. Also, this study shows that the Black Power movement inspired and provided direction for Young Lords leaders. Finally, this thesis demonstrates that the movement against urban renewal projects in Lincoln Park motivated Young Lords members into action, helped define their activism, and became one of the driving causes of their movement.