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Last week marked the first anniversary of the passing of Luis Garden Acosta, the founder and longtime president of the nationally known El Puente youth and community leadership program in Brooklyn. Long regarded as one of New York City’s foremost human rights and Latino community activists, Garden Acosta died last January at the age of 72. A former seminarian who had been active in the Catholic antiwar movement, Garden Acosta joined the Young Lords Party in 1970 and later founded that group’s Massachusetts chapter while he was still a student at Harvard Medical School. He went on to pioneer successful nonviolent direct action campaigns against segregated public schools and against environmental racism in New York City. In his later years, together with his wife Frances Lucerna, Garden Acosta created an alternative public high school geared toward human rights activism, the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. To honor his legacy, we speak with the renowned poet Martín Espada. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of more than 20 books. His latest collection of poems is called “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed.”

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