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Oral history project traces Young Lords Movement

  • Student José Jiménez helped launch an oral history project that documents the Young Lords.

Posted on October 10, 2012

Faculty and student researchers launched an oral history project dedicated to documenting the history of the displacement of Puerto Ricans, Latinos and others from Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood in the 1960s.

The project is co-directed by José "Cha-Cha" Jiménez, who founded the Young Lords Movement in 1968, and Melanie Shell-Weiss, assistant professor of liberal studies. Core partners are Grand Valley's Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, and Special Collections and University Archives.

"The Young Lords in Lincoln Park" project tells the story of the ongoing struggle with Chicago officials for fair housing, self-determination and human rights. Jiménez said he wanted 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."

Recording, preserving and making these memories accessible to teachers, researchers and the community is the project's guiding aim, Shell-Weiss said.

The project includes videotaped oral histories, photographs and a growing collection of related material; it can be found at The collection of more than 100 videotaped oral histories will be available online over the next year.

Additional materials that will be available online through the GVSU Libraries Digital Collections include historical photographs and papers documenting the origins of the Young Lords Movement. The papers include Jiménez's unpublished manuscripts from his campaign for Chicago alderman, as well as photos and documents donated by people who have been interviewed for the project.

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