A Movement Without Marches: African American Women and the Politics of Poverty in Postwar Philadelphia / Edition 1

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Lisa Levenstein reframes highly charged debates over the origins of chronic African American poverty and the social policies and political struggles that led to the postwar urban crisis. A Movement Without Marches follows poor black women as they traveled from some of Philadelphia's most impoverished neighborhoods into its welfare offices, courtrooms, public housing, schools, and hospitals, laying claim to an unprecedented array of government benefits and services. With these resources came new constraints, as public officials frequently responded to women's efforts by limiting benefits and attempting to control their personal lives. Scathing public narratives about women's "dependency" and their children's "illegitimacy" placed African American women and public institutions at the center of the growing opposition to black migration and civil rights in northern U.S. cities. Countering stereotypes that have long plagued public debate, Levenstein offers a new paradigm for understanding postwar U.S. history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An excellent local study….The narrative of self-empowerment and persistent agency that Levenstein constructs of poor African American women defying all stereotypes in the face of crippling hurdles does not disappoint.—The Journal of African American History

Challenges scholarship on black urban poverty. . . . Instructive to students of urban history, migration, race, gender, and poverty.—The Journal of American History

Is it possible to write about poor women as active agents without fitting them within a social movement framework? . . . Levenstein has already achieved that balance in this important work. . . . A full understanding of African American poverty must include the women Levenstein so powerfully analyzes.—American Historical Review

A path-breaking account. . . . [Levenstein's] wide-ranging study of five public institutions suggests a pervasiveness, depth, and force of this phenomenon that historians have not recognized. The field of twentieth-century U.S. politics desperately needs more of her sustained analysis.—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

Levenstein's focus on the 1950s and 1960s serves to explore the roots of political and social activism embraced by so many younger black people in the subsequent decade. . . . Highly recommended.—Choice

Excellent. . . . Levenstein becomes a skilled storyteller and weaves narratives from her oral histories throughout the book to support the detailed analysis. . . . Does not disappoint.—Journal of African American History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Lisa Levenstein is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: The Multidimensionality of Poverty in a Postwar City 1

1 "Tired of Being Seconds" on ADC 31

2 Hard Choices at 1801 Vine 63

3 Housing, Not a Home 89

4 "Massive Resistance" in the Public Schools 121

5 A Hospital of Their Own 157

Conclusion 181

Appendix: Note on First-Person Sources 193

Notes 201

Bibliography 259

Index 285

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