children new hope in their effort to break the poverty
cycle. It would end abject poverty in the South.
We, the majority, must begin supporting all indigenous
reform groups--for they are our hope for peaceful
change--whether they are welfare groups, housing
groups, or community job seekers and unions.
The VISTAs discerned the weaknesses of the economic
system and were frustrated by the absence of any substantive
solutions to the problems confronting the lower strata of
society. Their disappointment fostered a determination to organize people in order to pressure the government for more
In sum, organizing and demonstrations increased in Brooklyn, together with client self-confidence and respect. Said
Ms. Samuels, "the ladder of success was within reach." With
the arrival of the VISTAs, WRO activities assumed a new
dimension, portending a time for major initiatives.
Elizabeth Hood, "Black Women, White Women: Separate Paths to
Liberation", Black Scholar 14 ( September-October 1983): 26-37.
In the 1980s the poverty of households headed by white females has
been documented, along with the plight of black females. Some people
contend that the problem is now receiving a more thorough review, with calls
for new ideas and programs to meet these families' needs. A fledgling body
of literature has surfaced concerning the feminization of poverty. But simultaneously, the black family continues to be criticized, with black women and
pregnant teens being blamed for problems that actually stem from the record
unemployment levels in their communities. Their image has been tarnished: "From these unhealthy families and pathological communities flow the
diseases of poverty, low educational achievement, prostitution, drug abuse
and unemployment. This line of reasoning establishes the black woman as
the evil one, rather than the victim." Hood, "Black Women, White Women."
One former client activist recalled during a summer 1983 interview
in Brooklyn, New York, that she had joined the movement because of an
encounter with welfare rights organizers on this issue.