LOGAN SQUARE — Longtime community organization Logan Square Neighborhood Association has a new name the group’s leaders hope reflects their commitment to “liberation for all.”
After 60 years of being known as Logan Square Neighborhood Association, the organization is now Palenque LSNA. The name change took effect in April.
Palenques — sometimes called quilombos or maroon communities — are settlements formed throughout the Americas by Africans and their descendants who escaped slavery, perhaps as far back as the early 1500s. Those formerly enslaved people often mixed with Indigenous people to establish their own communities, survive on their own and fight off attacks from European colonists.
The organization’s leaders said they chose the word “palenque” because the settlements have a deep history of bringing Latinx and Black people together.
“They are a remembrance that Latinx folks are part of the African diaspora, that Black and Brown death and life are inextricably intertwined and have been for at least 500 years, and that to act on this is a path toward our collective healing and systemic change,” according to the organization’s website.
Founded in 1962, the Logan Square group has historically focused its organizing around Latinx residents, pushing for city policies that curb displacement and gentrification. The organization also runs immigration and education initiatives, including a robust parent mentor program in partnership with local schools.
With the name change, the organization’s leaders want to convey they’re committed to fighting for social justice for all Black, Brown, indigenous and immigrant residents and allies in Logan Square, Hermosa and Avondale, Executive Director Juliet De Jesus Alejandre said.
“We’re making sure that we’re making space for African American moms to be leaders, so when we’re doing cash assistance or any work in the schools that we’re creating that space,” De Jesus Alejandre said.
In Mexican culture, palenques are known as parties, which is another reason for the name change, De Jesus Alejandre said.
“When you’re organizing constantly out of a state of claiming your right to exist, a lot of it can feel so heavy all of the time … a lot of what our families are dealing with is truly heavy,” she said. “Palenque LSNA — yes, of course we’re organizing, but we’re going to do it with joy and we’re going to have fun.”
The organization’s annual congress, one of its biggest celebrations of the year, is set for noon-7 p.m. May 21. The free festival will kick off at Palenque LSNA’s office at 2840 N. Milwaukee Ave. with a march for affordable housing guided by mariachi bands.
After the march, there will be a daylong celebration with local food and drinks, wares from Mexican artesanas and folklorico and student performances. Go here to RSVP.
De Jesus Alejandre said they’ve applied for a placemaking grant to bring more visibility to the name change and the organization itself.
“We’re really trying to create visible signs in the built environment around us — a celebration that we’re here, that we have a right to this city,” she said.
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