Nowadays, any knowledge that the female members of the Young Lords can impart is highly valuable. But the first time a publication wrote about the women who formed part of the militant group, the results were unsatisfactory. On November 11, 1970, the New York Times published a piece titled “Young Women Find a Place in the High Command of Young Lords.” The article appeared in the “Food, Fashions, Family, and Furnishings” section – an area of the newspaper reserved for human interest stories on women. But even if this piece diminished the work of the female members of the group – made up of young, urban Boricuas out of Chicago and New York who advocated for everything from queer rights to self-determination for Puerto Rico – Iris Morales stood up for the women she worked alongside with. “We do everything that the brothers do,” she told the reporter.
In her new book, Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976, Morales – details how women played a prominent role in the group. One-third of the Young Lords’ members were women. As the first female member of the Young Lords, there probably isn’t a better person to author this book.
On the 40th anniversary of the founding of the group’s New York chapter, an El Diario de la Prensa piece titled “Mujeres of the Young Lords” renewed interest in the women of this movement. And it inspired Morales. “I reached out to former members,” she wrote in her book. “‘This might be the last chance for a first-hand women’s account,’ I [told them], ‘an opportunity to expand the historical narrative about the Young Lords.’ Our experiences varied depending on when, where, and why we joined, and the particular work we did. Only a few women had written about their involvement, and memories were rapidly fading. I wanted to document the story as we had lived it, through its ups and downs from the early formative days in New York City through its demise.”
Despite a few dead ends, Morales persisted. On November 1, 2016, Red Sugarcane Press, Inc. published the book. Next week, UpRose will host the first official book signing for Through the Eyes of Rebel Women. Taking place at UpRose BK on November 10, this event is a chance to learn from Morales.
Book Signing with Iris Morales: Through the Eyes of Rebel Women takes place on December 10, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UpRose BK, 166A 22nd Street, Brooklyn, New York 11232. Learn more here.