Smith College, along with Holyoke Community College and Hampshire College, will host leading community activist Iris Morales, who rose to prominence in the Vietnam era as one of the first women to join the revolutionary Latin@/Latinx organization, the Young Lords Party. Today Morales continues her esteemed career as an attorney, filmmaker, artist, author, educator, and community organizer.
As a teenage activist in New York City, Morales joined the paramilitary Young Lords Party, a multiethnic, primarily Puerto Rican organization that emerged in the late sixties to fight poverty, racial and gender inequality, and the colonial status of Puerto Rico. Women in the Young Lords organized to build a people’s movement and a “revolution within the revolution” believing that women’s liberation was inseparable from society’s progress as a whole.
Iris Morales will read from her new memoir, Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976 (Red Sugarcane Press, 2016) and screen her award-winning documentary film ¡Palante, Siempre Palante! She will share her insights and approaches to feminist organizing within Latin@/Latinx communities and discuss how the Young Lords Party and the Black Panther Party offer today’s young activists a foundation to think about collaborative organizing for social change.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Seelye 106 at Smith College
7-8pm – Film screening of Morales’ award-winning film, ¡Palante, Siempre Palante!
8-9:30pm – Book talk & signing of Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976 (Red Sugarcane Press, 2016)
Morales is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, the first Puerto Rican to receive the prestigious fellowship. She also earned an MFA in integrated media arts from Hunter College. For 30 years, she has helped develop organizations dedicated to grassroots organizing and community empowerment, such as the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the New Educational Opportunities Network.
Her early political life was influenced by Malcolm X’s writings and ideas of self-determination. As a high school student, she marched to end the war in Vietnam and organized tenants associations fighting for better housing conditions. At the City College of New York, she majored in political science and was a student leader and co-organizer of PRISA, the first Puerto Rican student organization on campus.
Morales will also speak at Holyoke Community College on Wednesday, March 22, at 11 a.m. at the Kittredge Center, Room 301; at Hampshire College on Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m., in in the Main Lecture Hall in the Franklin Patterson Hall building at Hampshire; and in Holyoke at El Mercado on Friday, March 24, at 6 p.m.
All events are free and open to the public.
** Magdalena Gómez, performance poet, cofounder/artistic director of Teatro V!da, in Springfield, and a vanguard member of the Nuyorican literary movement since 1971, will read from her work and introduce Iris Morales. **
This series has been organized by Prof. Jennifer Guglielmo, of Smith College; Prof. Wilson Valentín-Escobar, of Hampshire College; Andrew Fletcher, of Holyoke Community College; and Maria Cartagena, Program Coordinator at Community Partnerships for Social Change, Hampshire College.
For more information about Morales’s visit, e-mail Guglielmo, Valentín-Escobar, Fletcher, or Cartagena.
Iris Morales’ website
For more on Iris Morales’ memoir
Magdalena Gomez’s website
El Mercado 413 Main Street Holyoke, Mass
Hampshire’s Community Partnerships for Social Change