The Politics of Public Housing

p. 101

Discussion on displacement in East Baltimore, Waverly, and the State Center area.

p. 194

July 1966, Afro American newspaper writes that Mothers Rescuers “statements and activism symbolized”:

the new mood creeping slowly through the black ghetto of Baltimore like sunlight at an early dawn—a mood that demands rights and respect and a chance for a decent life as the natural birthright of all.

“By 1968, more than half of Baltimore’s public housing population, which was 81 percent black, received public assistance.”

“As they pushed for citizenship and economic self-sufficiency, low-income, urban black women exanded the vision of the black freedom and women’s liberation struggles and contested state oppression. Their primary focus extended beyond the traditional civil rights issues of public accomodations, the vote, and legislative equality. Like civil rights activists Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Gloria Richardson, poor black women focused on questions of economics, survival and dignity.”

p. 198

“The uprisings revealed poor people’s frustration and fear and their desires to attack exploitation and obtain consumer goods.”

February 1968, Walter Lively warned “white decisions makers that they had to”:

give colored citizens a stake in what America is before ghetto dwellers could see a chance to accomplish their goals without violence.

Lively, “in the midst of the rebellions… argued that the ‘completely spontaneous’ urban uprisings indicated”

that an overwhelming portion of the black community of this city do not want the white man to continue his economic colonization of our people.

p. 198-199

Describes food cooperatives in Lafayette Douglass “the first in a wave of similar, although often short-lived, ventures. Between 1969 and 1970, Perkins Homes, Westport Homes, and Flag House Courts all explored establishing food buying clubs”

p. 201

Mother Rescuers formed in June 1966 with sponsorship of Union for Jobs or Income Now (U-JOIN), meeting at the U-JOIN offices on East Gay Street

p. 209

“In 1967, the welfare rights struggle heated up, especially wih increased coordination of poor mothers’ pressurre on the state and heightened critiques of poverty. Mother Rescuers clamored for legal representation for welfare recipients who were arrested in local govenrnment round-ups of suspected welfare cheaters… That same year, NWRO launched its basic needs campaign. In Baltimore, Mother Rescuers geared up for a battle to reinstate an increased budet for rent, food, and clothing which the state DPW had submitted, but that Agnew’s administration had cut.”

Describes multiple marches on Annapolis to protest cuts.

p. 212

“In the late 1960s in Baltimore, public housing tenants not only participated in Mother Rescuers, the city’s first welfare rights organizaation. They formed and participated in welfare rights groups in public housing during the same moment that predominanly black women tenants fought for the establishment of the citywide RAB.” (Resident Advisory Board)

p. 213

“In 1949, the unemployed and poor picketed city hall, asking the mayor, city council, and welfare department for more welfare funds.”

p. 216

By 1971 the Cherry Hill WRO was one of eleven Baltimore-based NWRO-affiliated groups.”

p. 216-217

1967 Riverside speech, MLK, Jr.:

[the] real promise of hope for the poor—both black and white—through the poverty program. [was] program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war

p. 218-219

“Around that time, [1970?] the BWRO opened an office on North Fulton Avenue in St. Martin’s Catholic Church’s rectory, ironically the same church at which, twenty years before, the white Fulton Improvement Association had held anti-integration meetings… the group submitted a grant proposal to the Cathoic archdiocese’s Campaign for Human development and secured close to $15,000 in funding.” Hired “first paid executive director”

p. 219

“the Perkins Homes welfare rights chapter held a demonstration at the First National Bank at Broadway and Eastern avenues on May 4, 1971, for ‘residents of Perkins and residents outside of Perkins who are on welfar, pension, and are of low-income.’” Protesting fees on food stamp transactions, gas and electrical bill payments, “refusing to cash welfare checks.”

p. 230

Lexington Terrace residents’ “decisive threat to engage in a rent strike in 1993 conjures up the O’Donnell Heights rent strike spearheaded by tenant and welfare rights activists in 1978.”

p. 233

Between 1964 and 1975, the number of African-American elected officials increased from 100 to almost 3,000, 135 of them mayors. … the city did not elect its first black mayor, Kurt Schmoke, until 1987. Until then, the mayoral office and city council remained under white control, even though as early as 1972, about 44 percent of Baltimore’s voters were African American.