The Academy for Black and Latin Education: A Pedagogy of Life in a New York Community



In this text, Ujju Aggarwal transports us to New York City in the 1960s and the creation by the community-organized and -led youth academies for Black and Latinx people, whose goal was to teach in a way that addressed the needs of the community and where students would learn and understand themselves in relation to the world, in order to transform it. 

Aggarwal Funambulist 1
Mothers Against Drugs (MAD) at the March Against Narcotics in Washington
DC in Spring 1970.

“From then on, I split my teaching time between the storefront and the hospital where my students arrived wearing hospital gowns as they went through their detoxification. From this experience, I learned the power of grassroots organizing, […] the power of community and the joy of taking care of each other.” In “Reflections on the Academy for Black & Latin Education” (2022), life-long activist Iris Morales recalls when, in 1970 as a college student and before joining the Young Lords Party, she and others at the Academy for Black and Latin Education (ABLE) joined forces with Mothers Against Drugs (MAD) to occupy St. Luke’s Hospital in New York. Together, they demanded that the hospital addresses the immediate needs of the community by creating an adolescent detoxification program.