- From Innocent Children to Unwanted Migrants and Unwed Moms: Two Chapters in the Public Discourse on Welfare in the United States, 1960-1961
- Journal of Women's History
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 11, Number 4, Winter 2000
- pp. 10-33
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In June 1961, a stringent set of welfare cutbacks in Newburgh, New York, received widespread public support and incited a racist backlash against welfare throughout the nation. Less than one year earlier, however, an even harsher set of cutbacks aimed specifically at black recipients of Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) in the state of Louisiana provoked a mainly critical public response. This article illustrates how the rhetorical framing and historical context of these two sets of cutbacks shaped the divergent public reactions to them. In 1960, many northerners sympathetically described ADC in Louisiana as "child aid," a grant targeting poor black children in the civil rights-torn American South. In the Newburgh case, however, ADC was referred to as "unwed mother aid," a grant supporting the supposedly lazy and luxurious lifestyles of African-American women who migrated to the North. By examining the language and issues of these cutbacks, this article reveals a crucial moment in the evolution of our contemporary antiwelfare discourse.