Chronicles a Black Puerto Rican man’s odyssey and transformation from an incarcerated gang member to the Co-Founder of the Young Lords Party.
Growing up fatherless and poor, Felipe Luciano didn’t yearn for wealth or dream of becoming a famous actor or athlete. He was tired of being poor and ached to be a man, to reach that point of sagacity, courage, and independence that would signal to the world that he was now a warrior, ready to fight the battle for truth and justice, to slay the dragon of evil, whatever that might be. In Flesh and Spirit, Luciano paints a vivid portrait of his life in New York City as a member of the city’s Latino community as well as his pivotal role in the Young Lords and The Last Poets.
Luciano’s memoir begins when as a teenage Brooklyn gang member he is convicted of manslaughter. This pivotal moment changes the trajectory of his life. The American kid raised on Davy Crockett and Superman TV tales emerged from the womb of prison into a harsh, new monochromatic black/white world without the benefit of rose-colored glasses. It was a painful shattering of all his childhood beliefs and the realization that he was a poor Black Puerto Rican in white America clutching onto values that didn’t work. The only flotsam in this churning sea of ’60s social turmoil was college, poetry, revolutionary activity, and sometimes God. After getting an education, Luciano went on to become an acclaimed poet and political activist who advocates for the Latino population of New York City, for the kids growing up in the same circumstances he did.
Sparing no one—not the revolutionaries, the Revolution, nor the author himself—Flesh and Spirit is written with honesty and humility to help guide young people of color and other Americans through the labyrinths of ideology, organization, missteps, false paths, and phony societal promises.
Featuring archival photographs by Michael Abramson reproduced from Palante: Voices and Photographs of the Young Lords, 1969-1971 © 2011 Haymarket Books.