Abstract

This article analyzes the concepts of motherhood that framed welfare rights campaigns in Washington, D.C., from 1966 to 1972. Throughout President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, President Richard Nixon's attempts to reform welfare, and debates between policy makers regarding allegedly dysfunctional black families, public assistance recipients based their demands for changing welfare policies on their status as mothers. In so doing, they infused policy debates and mobilized grassroots activists with their particular vision of maternity. The responses of government officials and welfare administrators to these de-mands reflected traditional ideas about women's roles and perpetuated stereotypes about black women's sexual immorality. Ultimately, the focus on motherhood and the conflicting views about black women led to limited reform and eclipsed broader efforts to transform the welfare system.

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 34-58
Launched on MUSE
2000-02-01
Open Access
No
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