Biting the Hand That Feeds Them: Organizing Women on Welfare at the Grass Roots Level

By Jacqueline Pope | Go to book overview

are discussed. This segment strives to illustrate the diversity of the institutions and people involved in the welfare rights efforts. Their role is reviewed, and the chapter focuses on the federal government's community development activities during the 1960s.

An examination of the dynamics surrounding the proliferation of neighborhood groups, and the genesis of the Brooklyn Welfare Action Council are provided in Chapter 5. Attention is focused on the B-WAC demonstrations and the mobilizing strategies associated with them; in addition, coalition building by the activists is addressed. The results of that effort together with the weaknesses and strengths of B-WAC are documented and examined.

A summary of the findings and recommendations constitute a portion of Chapter 6. Interviews with former recipientleaders and excerpts from newsletters and articles are included.


NOTES
1.
B-WAC--voted into existence by organized welfare clients in November 1967--was a member of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), a coalition of all welfare rights groups around the country. In addition, B-WAC was part of the Manhattan-based New York Citywide Coordinating Council of Welfare Rights Groups (Citywide), a coordinating body for groups in all the New York City boroughs (Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). In 1968 there was a short-lived New York State organization ( New York State Welfare Rights Organization-- NYS-WRO). The purpose of NWRO--founded in 1966--was to facilitate and coordinate efforts to reform and eventually replace the nation's welfare system with a guaranteed annual income for all Americans. The welfare rights hierarchy in Brooklyn, New York, was as follows: local neighborhood welfare rights organizations, B-WAC, Citywide, NYS-WRO, and NWRO.
2.
The numbers contradict Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven's estimate in Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail ( New York: Vintage Books, 1979), p. 226. Since their data are presumably from NWRO records, they do not offer the complete picture. Brooklyn members frequently disagreed with NWRO policies or stands and refused to pay NWRO dues. Consequently, at any given time, a little over half the

-7-

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