“You Have Living Legends among You”

Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Chicago Young Lords


  • Sara Awartani




In late September 2018, multiple generations of Chicago’s storied social movements marched through Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood as part of the sold-out, three-day Young Lords Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium hosted by DePaul University—an institution that, alongside Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration, had played a sizeable role in transforming Lincoln Park into a neighborhood “primed for development.” Students, activists, and community members—from throughout Chicago, the Midwest, the East Coast, and even as far as Texas—converged to celebrate the history of Puerto Ricans in Chicago, the legacies of the Young Lords, and the promises and possibilities of resistance. As Elaine Brown, former chairwoman and minister of information for the Black Panther Party, told participants in the second day’s opening plenary, the struggle against racism, poverty, and gentrification and for self-determination and the general empowerment of marginalized people is a protracted one. “You have living legends among you,” Brown insisted, inviting us to associate as equals with the Young Lords members in our midst. Her plea encapsulated the ethos of that weekend’s celebrations: “If we want to be free, let us live the light of the Lords.”