The Battle for Welfare Rights
Politics and Poverty in Modern America
"The Battle for Welfare Rights unearths the remarkable moment in history when a movement led by African American women shook the nation's foundations of power. . . . Essential reading for students of welfare history, theory, and politics, as well as an inspiration to those who carry on the battle for social justice in America."—Dorothy Roberts, Northwestern University
"A rich chronicle of welfare rights activity, the 'movement's' strategic thinking, and the political and policy context that shaped and interacted with the movement."—Rickie Solinger, author of Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States
"The most sophisticated study of welfare rights organizing to date. It engages with grassroots and high politics, social history and social thought, and, in the process, illuminates how law and social work shaped the movement to secure the 'rightly needs' of poor solo mothers. . . . Kornbluh does it all with insight and verve."—Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
The Battle for Welfare Rights chronicles an American war on poverty fought first and foremost by poor people themselves. It tells the fascinating story of the National Welfare Rights Organization, the largest membership organization of low-income people in U.S. history. Setting that story in the context of its turbulent times, the 1960s and early 1970s, historian Felicia Kornbluh shows how closely tied that story was to changes in mainstream politics, both nationally and locally in New York City.
The Battle for Welfare Rights offers new insight into women's activism, poverty policy, civil rights, urban politics, law, consumerism, social work, and the rise of modern conservatism. It tells, for the first time, the complete story of a movement that profoundly affected the meaning of citizenship and the social contract in the United States.
Felicia Kornbluh teaches history at Duke University. She has written for many publications, including The Nation, Feminist Studies, Los Angeles Times, Women's Review of Books, Journal of American History, and In These Times. Cofounder of Historians for Social Justice, she is a long-standing member of the Women's Committee of 100, an advocacy organization.