DePaul commemorates street gang's 1969 takeover of building to protest gentrification

black and white picture of DePaul University
The scene in 1969: A street gang takes over a campus building at DePaul University. Photo credit DePaul University Special Collections and Archives

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- DePaul University unveiled a plaque Monday that will eventually adorn a building on campus that was taken over by a street gang for several days in 1969.

When members of the Young Lords chained the doors of what was then the McCormick Theological Seminary building, they demanded low-income housing for people being displaced in gentrifying Lincoln Park.

DePaul Professor of Modern Languages Jacqueline Lazu says working with the People’s Party Coalition, they secured their goal -- and a place in history as an entry point for many Puerto Ricans into the civil-rights movement.

The group that started off as a street gang refashioned itself as a civil rights organization and sparked chapters in other cities after the occupation.

Lazu says members worked with Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers to form what many called the First Rainbow Coalition.

DePaul’s honor for the group comes days into Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 - Oct 15) and ahead of Saturday’s 55th anniversary of its formation.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: DePaul University Special Collections and Archives