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

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

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

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

Synopsis

"Pope makes an important contribution through her descriptive thought-provoking case study approach. Without romanticizing the poor, she clearly illustrates how the protest model of community organizing was practiced by poor, urban minority women. Because community organizing is still developing, and is still unclear in theory, methods, and principles, her study significantly adds to our knowledge of what community organizing attempts to accomplish and some of its strengths and weaknesses." Social Service Review

Excerpt

The Brooklyn Welfare Action Council (B-WAC) was a grass roots cooperative established in 1967 by women of color (ages 27-55) who received public assistance. Its purpose was to obtain social and economic benefits for its members through the promotion of changes within the system. By the time B- WAC disbanded in 1973, it had achieved the development of indigenous leaders who could preside over community institutions founded during the years of its existence.

As members of a nationwide effort--the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO)--activists labored to solidify the dignity of and to secure some measure of power for people on society's economic bottom. However, the Brooklyn contingent distinguished itself by being the sole welfare rights group that was controlled by and addressed the needs of welfare recipients.

METHODOLOGY

Employing a historical approach, I chronicled the welfare recipients' activities, analyzed their strategies, and examined B-WAC's weaknesses and strengths. Personal interviews figured prominently in the research. A total of 39 former . . .

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