Protest by the Poor

The Welfare Rights Movement in New York City

by Larry R. Jackson, William Arthur Johnson


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Analysis of the origins, growth, and tactics of protest groups involved with welfare in New York City. Welfare rights activities were the product of three developments during the 1960s: the civil rights movement, the War on Poverty, and the evolution of social welfare thought. In New York City, the welfare rights movement received initial impetus from Mobilization for Youth. However, it soon developed grass roots support in the ghetto communities, particularly in Brooklyn and on the lower east side. By 1968 the movement was able to organize mass demonstrations and to extract from the welfare system substantial benefits for its members. The study examines the recent increase in New York City's AFDC rolls and the role that these welfare groups have played and considers other factors, such as rising grant levels and liberalized acceptances thought to have influenced the City's caseload.

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