Home > Bronx County Archives Finding Aids > Esperanza Martell Papers, 1969–

Esperanza Martell Papers, 1969–

Information, Description, and Finding Aid

Collection Information

Reference: MS-MARTELL

Dates: 1969–present

Physical extent: 0.5 linear feet across two archival newspaper storage boxes

Born-digital extent: 5.97GB

Digital collection available

Finding Aid Information

Creator(s): Steven Payne, Ph.D., Librarian and Archivist

Date created/updated: January 13, 2022

Biography

Esperanza Martell was born to Nationalist parents in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, a colony of the U.S., in 1946. Her family was part of the forced economic migration of Puerto Ricans in the early 1950’s to the U.S. She has confronted and dealt with all the ills of being a poor, working-class, Afro-Taína woman in a racist, classist, and patriarchal society. Her life’s experiences make Esperanza all the many things she is: a human rights activist, an educator, community organizer, trainer, life-skills transformative counselor, mother, poet, and artist. Her life’s work has been to work closely with political activists and organizations to promote anti-oppression work, sustainability, the transformation of capitalism, and healing in communities of color. Since the late '60’s she has worked for the independence of Puerto Rico, to end the U.S. military occupation of Puerto Rico, and to free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners. She has been part of many militant Puerto Rican organizations: El Comité, El Frente Unido Pro Presos Políticos Puertorriqueños, the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, the NY Vieques Committee, El Comité Puertorriqueño Contra la Represión, Afirmación Puertorriqueña, ProLibertad, 36 Mujeres for Oscar, las Lolitas, and more.

One of her many passions is training poor working-class women of color, youth, and their allies to transform their lives, community, and the world. She was one of the co-founders of Casa Atabex Aché, a Women of Color Self-Healing Center in the South Bronx. She has also worked with various NYC-based Women’s Organizations and in Puerto Rico to end male violence, U.S. militarism, and colonialism. These groups include the Latin Women's Collective, the International Working Women’s Day Committee, the Committee to Honor Puerto Rican Women, and Bohio Atabex Elders Council. In 2009, Esperanza founded the Urban Atabex Organizing and Self-healing in Community Training Network. She facilitates healing in community circles, trainings, and workshops, using her own culturally-based techniques for emotional self-healing, empowerment, and organizing. Her trainings focus on Critical Thinking to dismantle capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy; basic organizing skills; conflict resolution; civil disobedience and direct action; coalition building; life-skills; and self-care for the long haul.

Esperanza has worked on many human rights social justice issues from a class, race, gender, anti-capitalist colonial lens. Her work has spanned all areas of organizing in community-based organizations, schools, city agencies and radical organizations dealing with education, health, and police violence. As a board member of the Brecht Forum, The Marxist School, 1990–2005, she coordinated the Popular Education Institute, Paulo Freire: Education for Liberation Workshops for over 15 years. She is an active supporter and stands for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Paltier, and all political prisoners. As an internationalist she has worked with the peoples of Vietnam, South Africa, and Palestine for their freedom. Since the 1970’s she has organized civil disobedience trips with the Venceremos Brigade and IFCO/Pastors for Peace to end the U.S. economic blockade and the travel ban on Cuba. She loves the Cuban people’s will to stay free and believes a different world is possible. Esperanza believes that: “We who hold up the banner of revolution need also to hold up the banner of revolutionary ethics and values. Freedom is not free, we pay for it with our word and integrity.”

During the period 1987–2020 she taught and advised at many CUNY colleges, as well as at Pacific and Smith College. Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work was her home College. She taught and advised students from a race, class, and gender intersectional perspective, specializing in organizational development, team building, leadership skills, conflict resolution, diversity training, transformative counseling, and alternative healing. She holds a B.A. from City University of New York and a M.S.W. from Hunter College School of Social Work. She has published essays and poetry, including "'In the Belly of the Beast': Beyond Survival," The Puerto Rican Movement: Voices from the Diaspora (Temple University Press, 1998). As a Revson Fellow at Columbia University (2003–2004), she studied Peace and Human Rights education from a gender perspective. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Esperanza has been honored and recognized for her work in New York and Puerto Rico by many Organizations. In 2002, the Puerto Rican Working Women's Organization of Puerto Rico gave her the Peace and Social Justice Award and El Comité Noviembre awarded her the Best of our Community Award. She lives in Washington Heights with her son Amilcar Loi Alfaro-Martell.

As an artist, Esperanza’s Ceramic Sculpture de Terra y Mar has allowed her to find new ways to express her ideas about life, her African and Taíno heritage, women's culture, freedom, peace, and spirituality. Throughout her life, Esperanza has mentored generations of women and men, young and old, of every ethnicity and culture. She always leads by example.

In Esperanza's own words: “My vision of love for all people generates my desire to restructure this society. We need to go beyond the cause at hand and strive to sustain our work for the long haul, creating new leaders, strengthening existing ones and building a broad citywide and worldwide community that will mobilize millions for peace, the sustainability of the plant, and economic justice.”

Biography provided by Esperanza Martell.

Description/Scope and Content

The collection is organized in the following four series:

1) Newspapers, which contains 35 issues of Palante, a bilingual community newspaper published by the Young Lords Party in The Bronx; and 1 issue of Unidad Latina, a bilingual community newspaper published by El Comité, the organization to which Esperanza belonged.

2) Posters, which includes 1 poster produced by the Young Lords, c. 1970.

3) Videos of Esperanza, which is comprised of various videos of Esperanza throughout the years, including her 2021 oral history with the Bronx Latino History Project. (Researchers should also watch Esperanza's two-part oral history conducted for the 100 Puerto Ricans Oral History Project at Centro.)

4) Writings by and about Esperanza, which includes Esperanza's published writings as well as pieces published on Esperanza.

5) Clippings about Esperanza, which includes digital material related to Esperanza's art and activism.

Provenance

The physical material in the Esperanza Martell papers were donated to the Society by Esperanza on December 23, 2021. The born-digital material has been created or collected by the archivist since conducting Esperanza's oral history for the Bronx Latino History Project. A copy of her oral history is also included in this collection.

Preferred Citation

[Item name or description,] Esperanza Martell papers, The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Points of Access

  • Community organizing
  • Community gardens -- Friends of Brook Park Community Garden
  • Education and educational institutions -- Hostos Community College -- Hunter College
  • Ethnic groups and nationalities -- African Americans -- Jews -- Puerto Ricans (Boricuas) -- Taíno
  • Gentrification and displacement -- San Juan Hill (Lincoln Center) -- Washington Heights -- Upper West Side of Manhattan
  • Healthcare -- alternative medicine -- Casa Atabex Aché -- Lincoln Detox -- People's Alternative Health Clinic (St. Ann's Church) -- sterilization abuse -- women's reproductive rights
  • Individuals -- Antonetty, Evelina -- Luciano, Felipe -- Martell, Esperanza -- Oliver, Denise -- Pérez, Richie -- Rodriguez-Trias, Helen -- Ross, Suzanne -- Trinidad, Urayoana
  • Neighborhoods (The Bronx, New York) -- Hunts Point -- Longwood -- Mott Haven
  • Publications -- Palante -- Unidad Latina
  • Puerto Rican liberation -- National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners -- National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights
  • Radicalism -- communism -- El Comité (MINP) -- Young Lords Party

Related Collections

  1. 100 Puerto Ricans Oral History Project. El Centro (Center for Puerto Rican Studies), Hunter College, City University of New York.
  2. Esperanza Martell papers. El Centro (Center for Puerto Rican Studies), Hunter College, City University of New York.
  3. Argote Family papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  4. At Home in Utopia collection. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  5. Bill Bigelow papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  6. Gil Fagiani papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  7. Mariposa Fernández papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  8. Rev. Wendell Foster papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  9. Murray Lerner papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  10. Hansel L. McGee papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  11. Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition records. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  12. Jackie Robinson papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  13. Mel Rosenthal papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  14. South Bronx Churches records. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  15. Gelvin Stevenson papers on Arson and Housing Abandonment. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  16. Millicent S. Thayer papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  17. Urban League, Bronx Branch Records. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Physical Series

Series Title Box Folders
1 Newspapers 1 1–22
2 Posters 1 23–24

Born-Digital Series

Series Title DIGITAL ID
3 Writings by Esperanza MS-MARTELL.BD003.*
4 Videos of Esperanza MS-MARTELL.BD004.*
5 Clippings MS-MARTELL.BD005.*

Container List

Series 1: Newspapers

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

1

Palante, vol. 1, no. 4 [Young Lords Organization]

December 1969

1

2

Palante, vol. 1, no. 5 [YLO]

January 1970

1

3

Palante, vol. 2, no. 2 [YLO]

May 8, 1970

1

4

Palante, vol. 2, no. 3 [YLO]

May 22, 1970

1

5

Palante, vol. 2, no. 4 [Young Lords Party]

June 5, 1970

1

6

Palante, vol. 2, no. 5 [YLP]

June 19, 1970

1

7

Palante, vol. 2, no. 6 [YLP]

July 3, 1970

1

8

Palante, vol. 2, no. 7 [YLP]

July 17, 1970

1

9

Palante, vol. 2, no. 8 [YLP]

July 31, 1970

1

10

Palante, vol. 2, no. 10 [YLP]

August 28, 1970

1

11

Palante, vol. 2, no. 14 [YLP]

October 30, 1970

1

12

Palante, vol. 2, no. 15 [YLP]

November 20, 1970

1

13

Palante, vol. 2, no 17 [YLP]

December 25, 1970

1

14

Palante, vol. 3, no. 7 [YLP]; back cover only

April 19–May 1, 1971

1

15

Palante, vol. 3, no. 8 [YLP]

May, 1971

1

16

Palante, vol. 3, no. 9 [YLP]; front cover page only

May 24–June 6, 1971

1

17

Palante, vol. 3, no. 11 [YLP]

June 21­–July 3, 1971

1

18

Palante, vol. 3, no. 12 [YLP]

July 4–18, 1971

1

19

Palante, vol. 3, no. 14 [YLP]

August 16–August 29, 1971

1

20

Palante, vol. 3, no. 15 [YLP]

September 11–23, 1971

2

2

Palante, vol. 4, no. 1 [YLP]

January 7–21, 1972

2

3

Palante, vol. 4, no. 3 [YLP]

February 5–19, 1972

2

4

Palante, vol. 4, no. 4 [YLP]

February 16–March 1, 1972

2

5

Palante, vol. 4, suppl.

June 6, 1972

2

6

Palante, vol. 4, no. 16 [Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization/YLP]

August 4–17, 1972

2

7

Palante, vol. 5, no. 8 [PRRWO]

October 4–25, 1973

2

8

Palante, vol. 5, no. 10 [PRRWO]

December 13–27, 1973

2

9

Palante, vol. 1, no. 1 [PRRWO]

November 1974

2

10

Palante, vol. 1, no. 5 [PRRWO]

April 28–May 28, 1975

2

11

Palante, vol. 1, no. 6 [PRRWO]

June 4­–July 5, 1975

2

12

Palante, vol. 1, no. 7 [PRRWO]

July 9–August 9, 1975

2

13

Palante, vol. 1, no. 10 [PRRWO]

October 8–November 5, 1975

2

14

Palante, vol. 1, no. 11 [PRRWO]

November 5–December 3, 1975

2

15

Palante, vol. 1, no. 12 [PRRWO]

December 4, 1975–January 7, 1976

2

16

Palante, vol. 6, no. 1 [PRRWO]

January 8–February 8, 1976

2

17

Unidad Latina [El Comité], vol. 1, no. 21

January 31­–February 15, 1972

Series 2: Posters

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

2

1

Young Lords Organization, illustration of heroin addicts (Denise Oliver) with poem by Felipe Luciano

1970

Series 3: Videos of Esperanza

Digital ID

Contents

Date
MS-MARTELL.BD003.001

Rompiendo Puertas (Break and Enter), Third World Newsreel

1970

MS-MARTELL.BD003.002

Speech on behalf of Puerto Rican political prisoners in front of New York City Council, filmed by José Rivera

September 23, 1992

MS-MARTELL.BD003.003

Oral History for the Bronx Latino History Project, pt. 1, filmed by Steven Payne

2021

MS-MARTELL.BD003.004

Discussing Ancestral Trauma with Esperanza Martell (Confederation of the Antilles)

June 28, 2015

MS-MARTELL.BD003.005

Dialogo Abierto, Esperanza Martell: Una Vida de Activismo (BronxNet)

November 20, 2019

MS-MARTELL.BD003.006

Taíno Lecture at the Ta-Merri Temple in Harlem with Esperanza Martell Bibi Inaru (Confederation of the Antilles)

January 10, 2015

MS-MARTELL.BD003.007

Defending and Restoring Our Beloved "Dos Alos" Mural (Virtual Boricua)

August 15, 2021

MS-MARTELL.BD003.008

Al-Quds Day, New York: Esperanza Martell, Puerto Rican Resistance (FreeAlQudsNY)

June 23, 2017

MS-MARTELL.BD003.009

Celebrating Indigenous Identity: Street Scholars Episode 3 (Confederation of the Antilles)

October 14, 2014

MS-MARTELL.BD003.010

Exploring Taíno Descendancy: Understanding the Topic of Extinction (Confederation of the Antilles)

February 22, 2015

Series 4: Writings by or about Esperanza

Digital ID

Contents

Date
MS-MARTELL.BD004.001

"'In the Belly of the Beast': Beyond Survival," The Puerto Rican Movement (Temple University Press)

1998

MS-MARTELL.BD004.002

"Learning in Community: A Transformative Healing Educational Model for Teaching Community Organizing," Holistic Engagement (Oxford University Press)

2016

MS-MARTELL.BD004.003

"Generational and Ancestral healing in Community: Urban Atabex Herstory," Genealogy 5

2021

MS-MARTELL.BD004.004

Clara Galvano, "Esperanza Martell: PRIDA Artist Everyone Should Know," PRIDA.org

January 1, 2019

MS-MARTELL.BD004.005

"Latin Women's Collective," in Suzanne Oboler and Deena J. Gonzalez, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States (Oxford University Press)

2005

Series 5: Clippings

Digital ID

Contents

Date
MS-MARTELL.BD005.001

Joyce Wilcox, "The Face of Women's Health: Helen Rodriguez-Trias," with testimony by Esperanza, American Journal of Public Health

April 2002

MS-MARTELL.BD005.002

Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Inc., "Where Art Meets Green in the South Bronx!," event announcement

November–December 2020