By Michael Woodsworth
Part a century after the release of the struggle on Poverty, its advanced origins stay vague. conflict for Bed-Stuy reinterprets President Lyndon Johnson’s much-debated campaign from the viewpoint of its foot squaddies in big apple urban, exhibiting how Nineteen Sixties antipoverty courses have been rooted in a wealthy neighborhood culture of grassroots activism and coverage experiments.
Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Brooklyn local housing 400,000 as a rule black, as a rule terrible citizens, used to be usually categorized “America’s greatest ghetto.” yet in its stylish brownstones lived a coterie of home-owning execs who campaigned to stem disease and unify the group. performing as agents among politicians and the road, Bed-Stuy’s black heart classification labored with urban officers within the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties to craft cutting edge responses to adolescence crime, actual decay, and capital flight. those partnerships laid the foundation for the federal neighborhood motion software, the debatable centerpiece of the warfare on Poverty. Later, Bed-Stuy activists teamed with Senator Robert Kennedy to create America’s first group improvement company, which pursued housing renewal and enterprise investment.
Bed-Stuy’s antipoverty projects introduced wish amid darkish days, strengthened the social security internet, and democratized city politics by way of fostering citizen participation in govt. additionally they empowered girls like Elsie Richardson and Shirley Chisholm, who translated their event as group organizers into management positions. but, as Michael Woodsworth unearths, those new varieties of black political energy, even though exercised within the identify of bad humans, usually did extra to profit middle-class householders. Bed-Stuy this day, formed through gentrification and displacement, displays the paradoxical legacies of midcentury reform.
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Additional info for Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City
He threw coins into jukeboxes, flipped cards, and spent long hours chatting on stoops. He helped to organize dances and managed a sandlot baseball team. He picked up the gang’s slang and befriended its leaders. 15 Laughlin soon learned that the Brewery Rats were only the most notorious faction in a shifting network of a hundred or so young men and boys who gravitated to the derelict brewery on Pulaski Street. Their home turf was a forbidding strip of decrepit houses, empty lots, abandoned storefronts, and bookie shops.
These semiofficial bodies were meant to encourage citizen participation in government policy, and Wagner asked them for feedback about housing, social ser vices, schools, parks, and libraries. Beyond policy, the planning councils made political sense for Wagner. Though he owed his ascendance to the Democratic machines, he was eager to burnish his credentials as a reformer. Communityplanning bodies linked the young politician directly to his diverse constituents at a time when regular Democratic Party structures had yet to open up to the city’s minority groups.
The New York City Youth Board will invade Bedford-Stuyvesant in the near future with a small army of workers to break up the juvenile gang menace” the Amsterdam News reported when the detached-worker program launched on December 15, 1950. That “small army” in Bed-Stuy was small indeed: it initially numbered only three, though it would soon include a dozen men. Like Laughlin, the new batch of detached workers would be given considerable leeway to tailor programs to neighborhoods. 26 One of the first to hit the ground in Bed-Stuy was Kenneth Marshall.
Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City by Michael Woodsworth