“Radical” Robin Hoods: The Young Lords’ Struggles for Community Health

D’Antony Hernandez and Julia Brannon

Image from: Filtermag.org

During the summer of 1970, the Young Lords, a primarily Puerto Rican militant group with a radical reputation, seized an X-ray unit and took over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx for 12 hours in response to the many unanswered calls for action to the city of New York. They used the X-ray unit to conduct door‐to‐door TB screenings, examining more than 900 people in East Harlem within the first 3 months and finding positive reactions to one in three tests. Lincoln Hospital itself was condemned by the rich and left open to abysmally treat the poor. The Young Lords took the needs of their community into their own hands after being continually denied access to proper public health care. Begging the questions in the face of oppressive public health policies, how radical were the Young Lords’ actions really? How can a group in service of basic human needs have such a radical reputation? In today’s episode of Flip the Script, we seek to answer those very questions. We will explore the tactics and legacy of the Young Lords and in the process start to decipher whether or not these “Radical” Robin Hoods are truly that radical…

Further Reading/Viewing:

Democracy Now. (n.d.). “Takeover”: New Doc Chronicles Historic 1970 Young Lords Occupation of Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmqzKbAWbl0

Frakt, A. (2020, January 13). Bad medicine: The harm that comes from racism. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/upshot/bad-medicine-the-harm-that-comes-from-racism.html

Latino Education Network Service. (n.d.). The Lincoln Hospital offensive July 17, 1970. Palante. http://palante.org/04LincolnOffensive.htm

Narvaez, A. A. (1970, June 18). The Young Lords Seize X‐Ray Unit. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1970/06/18/archives/the-young-lords-seize-xray-unit-take-it-to-area-where-they-say-it.html

Staudenmaier, Michael. “The Young Lords: A Radical History.” Centro Journal 33, no. 3 (Fall, 2021): 190-194. http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/young-lords-radical-history/docview/2618440522/se-2?accountid=12434.

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