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Sun May 27, 2018, 08:52 AM

The National Welfare Rights Organization 1966-1975

A poster made a comment that resonated strongly with me: "racism usually happens out of my sight." Acts of institutional racism are being forced into everyone's sight with the advent of, among other things, body cams on police. It of course has not always been so, but there have been times in my life when I could have followed up on evidence--sometimes very slight and underreported evidence--of astounding racism being perpetrated right under my smug liberal nose. And perpetrated in my name as a taxpayer.

When I was a young schoolteacher in Philadelphia during the early 70s, I was aware of the NWRO's demonstrations as they were reported in the newspapers, but it was a time of demonstrations, and I didn't do anything to find out what was being protested. Because it was a civil rights cause, if asked I would have supported it, but I didn't know what it was about.

A year or so ago on NPR, some of the women who'd been active in the NWRO were interviewed about the protests. I learned things that horrified me. Welfare is a right very grudgingly granted to black families, in the 70s at least mostly black families headed by a single woman. I learned that the application forms for welfare had coded indicators to reveal the skin color of the applicant. It was policy that white families "just needed more money" than black families, and welfare was distributed under two different schedules.

One thing that could bump a female-headed family off welfare back then was if there were an able-bodied man living in the household. Black families were subjected to midnight raids, where everyone, even children, had to turn out of their beds so that inspectors could make sure there was no "fraud" being perpetrated. White families, if they were raided at all, were raided during the daytime, when any able-bodied man would probably not be home anyway.

There were other outrages, but unfortunately I am old and my memory isn't what it used to be. I tried to find information on the internet about what the other abuses were, but all I could find were articles about the NWRO itself, which was an astounding entity, truly a grass-roots movement with charismatic leadership that was able to bring about some changes. Unfortunately, many of the changes sparked reactionary legislation that wiped out most progress. Today's work for welfare is a direct descendant of the reaction to the work of the NWRO. I found this site
http://www.blackpast.org/aah/national-welfare-rights-organization-1966-1975 a very interesting and helpful read.

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Reply The National Welfare Rights Organization 1966-1975 (Original post)
cyclonefence May 2018 OP
mountain grammy May 2018 #1

Response to cyclonefence (Original post)

Sun May 27, 2018, 09:28 AM

1. I remember the NWRO..

and several organizations in the 60's and 70's that fought for poor people's rights.. ACORN was founded in 1970, the Black Panther Party in 1966. These and several other organizations were active and successfully working in poor neighborhoods.. But the powers that be in both parties squashed them in the worst ways possible. ACORN actually remained, but with Obama's election, its days were numbered.
When Reagan won 44 states in 1980, it became crystal clear that the majority of Americans just don't give a shit and are quite statisfied that a large section of citizens are marginalized and forgotten and often barred from voting.

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