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Movement Without Marches

African American Women and the Politics of Poverty in Postwar Philadelphia

Lisa Levenstein

Publication Year: 2009

Women's claims on public institutions brought a range of new resources into poor African American communities. 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, ###A Movement Without Marches# offers a new paradigm for understanding postwar U.S. history.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture


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Title Page, COpyright Page

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pp. xiii-xviii

In writing this book, I relied on many people who believed in this project and shared their time and energy to help bring it to fruition. Some of them were drawn into my life through their involvement with the book; others were drawn into the book through their involvement...

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Introduction: The Multidimensionality of Poverty in a Postwar City

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pp. 1-30

On a hot summer day in 1999, Catherine Sanderson* recalled the challenges she faced decades earlier, caring for her son while working full-time as a domestic for white families in Philadelphia. Wearing a patterned dress and a yellow hat with a narrow brim...

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One: "Tired of Being Seconds" on ADC

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pp. 31-62

In 1962, Ada Morris walked out of her run-down apartment in search of an unoccupied pay phone where she could place a call to her welfare caseworker. She did not own a phone because the welfare department considered it a ‘‘luxury,’’ and she could not afford to buy one anyway. When Mrs. Morris got through to her caseworker, she informed...

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Two: Hard Choices at 1801 Vine

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pp. 63-88

In a Philadelphia criminal courtroom on November 18, 1947, Judge Gay Gordon called Janice Carson, an African American woman in her early twenties, to take the stand. Mrs. Carson walked to the podium to testify in an assault and battery case that she had brought against her husband. When questioned, Mrs. Carson told the court...

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Three: Housing, Not a Home

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pp. 89-120

In 1954, Mildred and Joseph Spencer moved with their four children into sparkling new public housing at Raymond Rosen Homes in North Philadelphia. Mrs. Spencer had stood in line for hours to submit an application to the Philadelphia Housing Authority...

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Four: "Massive Resistance" in the Public Schools

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pp. 121-156

In 1953, Hattie Parker, a forty-year-old mother, helped organize a Home and School Association in her South Philadelphia neighborhood. She and her husband had six children, aged five to eleven, and had fallen on hard times. Her husband had lost his job,...

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Five: A Hospital of Their Own

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pp. 157-180

In the early 1960s, Edwina Jordan lived in South Philadelphia with her young son and worked for the city water department. Mrs. Jordan frequently worked ‘‘sixteen hours’’ a day while running her household single-handedly. ‘‘You’re trying to figure out...

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pp. 181-192

On foot and by bus, tens of thousands of African American women, with young children in tow and papers in hand, made their way from impoverished neighborhoods across Philadelphia to the doorsteps of public institutions to claim benefits and services for themselves and their families. They came despite the difficulty of gaining...

Appendix: Note on First-Person Sources

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pp. 193-200


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pp. 201-258


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pp. 259-284


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pp. 285-300

E-ISBN-13: 9781469605883
E-ISBN-10: 1469605880
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807832721
Print-ISBN-10: 0807832723

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Series Editor Byline: Alex Lubin See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 435526855
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Movement Without Marches

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African American women -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Poor women -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
  • African American women -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • African American women -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Biography.
  • African Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
  • Poverty -- Political aspects -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Urban policy -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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