What If Poor Mothers Ran the World? Rethinking the War on Poverty

Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth College
CUNY, Graduate Center

In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, poor mothers in New York City and across the United States took charge of their lives and their communities, using federal anti-poverty dollars to build health clinics, serve free meals to poor children, publish community newspapers and even open free public swimming pools. Many of these programs were so successful that they literally extended life expectancies in poor communities. In this talk for New York City teachers, historian Annelise Orleck traces the history of community programs built by welfare mother activists in Brooklyn, New York and Las Vegas, Nevada. The incredible story of these grassroots activists and their many successes draws upon Professor Orleck’s book Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty.

The images that Professor Orleck discusses during the talk are available below.

Welfare Rights Images