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Summer Scholars researcher delves into civil rights project

  • Jose Jiménez will present S3 research about the Young Lords, a political organization he helped establish in the 1960s.

Posted on July 27, 2012

The research that Jose Jiménez will present during the Student Summer Scholars (S3) Showcase highlights his oral history project about the transformation of a 1960s street gang into a national political organization.

Like other oral historians, Jiménez lets his subjects tell the story. He could have easily told it himself — he helped found the Young Lords.

In the late 1960s, Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland mobilized as the Young Lords to fight against the discrimination Puerto Ricans faced in Chicago. Other major cities soon had Young Lords chapters, building on the anti-colonial and human rights movements of the civil rights era.

Jiménez said he is working to capture the history before the people who lived it are gone. “This is an immigrant story that hasn’t been told yet,” he said. “This history isn’t recorded anywhere in Chicago.”

So, he’s letting the people who lived it tell their stories. Jiménez is working with faculty mentor Melanie Shell-Weiss, assistant professor of liberal studies, for this S3 research project.

Jiménez and other S3 researchers will give presentations beginning at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, in the DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium. The S3 Showcase will run from 4-6:15 p.m.; it’s free and open to the campus community.

Shell-Weiss said S3 grant funds have allowed Jimenez has traveled to Puerto Rico and Chicago for interviews. Shell-Weiss directs an oral history project, Speaking Out, that is one of the pilot projects funded by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.

Shell-Weiss called Jiménez a civil rights leader and said listening to him talk about Chicago and the Young Lords is fascinating.

“The Young Lords were fighting for Puerto Rican nationalism. They were challenging forced displacement,” Shell-Weiss said.

Jiménez said he wants to collect about 75 interviews when the project is done. “Each interview has been a little piece of the puzzle,” he said.

For more information about the S3 Showcase, visit

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