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

By Jacqueline Pope | Go to book overview

But putting aside that debate, another critical feature in welfare rights was the joint effort of black and white, middle and lower economic people--using the resources of two powerful institutions, religious and academic--to enhance the quality of life in the United States by raising issues of personal, social, and economic equity for national discussion and scrutiny. This resulted in pressure on government to increase benefits and services to the poor. Public agencies bowed to the mandate--but reluctantly. Now, in 1988, administrators must continue the initiatives begun by those public activists by at least keeping the doors of change open. In this era, it is incumbent on people who believe that change is possible from within--especially social planners--to renew and realize WRO's goals.

The advocacy planning stage has matured; and we as change catalysts in the twenty-first century can be in the forefront of creating an atmosphere that fosters the expansion of democracy through respect for the ideas of all Americans, including the very poor. Fundamental freedoms must not be limited to people with access to the power holders.

I learned, I am somebody. Welfare Rights meant a right to life--it freed me from emotional slavery. I am a person you can't push aside; I have the right to be. Welfare Rights showed me that my counterparts are all around; knowing this, I no longer feel alone. Welfare Rights lives--me and other people are still active, struggling for a better life. PTAs, school boards, even political clubs have former WR's members and we continue pushing the welfare rights agenda. 11

B-WAC lives in the minds of everyone remotely associated with it. An organization for and by poor people, a women's movement that addressed real survival issues. Its concepts and promises live in us and our children. 12


NOTES
1.
Ms. Raysmer, a welfare rights leader who died in 1987, made this comment in a 1984 interview with the author. She was a single parent of five

-144-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Background 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - The Nature of America's and New York City's Welfare Systems 9
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - Activists and Resources of a Movement 33
  • Notes 63
  • 4 - Organized Recipients Begin Challenging Social Institutions 67
  • Notes 80
  • 5 - The Brooklyn Welfare Action Council: Forty-Six Welfare Rights Member Groups 83
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Summary, Findings, and Recommendations 131
  • Notes 144
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 162
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