Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York by Michael Woodsworth

By Michael Woodsworth

Part a century after the release of the warfare on Poverty, its complicated origins stay imprecise. conflict for Bed-Stuy reinterprets President Lyndon Johnson’s much-debated campaign from the point of view of its foot infantrymen in long island 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 in most cases black, normally terrible citizens, used to be usually classified “America’s greatest ghetto.” yet in its based brownstones lived a coterie of home-owning execs who campaigned to stem affliction and unify the group. appearing as agents among politicians and the road, Bed-Stuy’s black heart classification labored with urban officers within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties to craft cutting edge responses to adolescence crime, actual decay, and capital flight. those partnerships laid the basis for the federal group motion software, the debatable centerpiece of the battle on Poverty. Later, Bed-Stuy activists teamed with Senator Robert Kennedy to create America’s first neighborhood improvement company, which pursued housing renewal and company investment.

Bed-Stuy’s antipoverty projects introduced wish amid darkish days, strengthened the social defense internet, and democratized city politics through fostering citizen participation in govt. additionally they empowered ladies like Elsie Richardson and Shirley Chisholm, who translated their adventure as neighborhood organizers into management positions. but, as Michael Woodsworth unearths, those new types of black political strength, although exercised within the identify of bad humans, usually did extra to profit middle-class owners. Bed-Stuy at the present time, formed by way of gentrification and displacement, displays the paradoxical legacies of midcentury reform.

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Extra info for Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City

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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. ” The brewery itself served as a fortress during battles; inside, a “maze of rooms and cellars overrun by rats,” in the words of the Brooklyn Eagle, provided hiding places and storage space for stolen loot.

Rivals waged pitched battles in Prospect Park, where a gently sloping meadow near the park’s western edge was christened Massacre Hill. 3 million in fiscal 1950), the Youth Board attempted to “reach the unreached” by targeting programs to closely circumscribed areas. In doing so, the agency looked to the work of Leo Laughlin and BCSP among the Brewery Rats. 27 Battle for Bed-Stuy The Youth Board’s chairman, Nathaniel Kaplan, served as a judge in Brooklyn’s Domestic Relations Court and had watched closely as the Tompkins Park project unfolded.

Much of the criticism attributing to parents responsibility for juvenile delinquency is essentially uncharitable,” Epstein wrote in “Perspectives on Delinquency Protection,” a landmark report released on May 12, 1955. 50 According to a 1957 booklet about gangs published by the Youth Board, the origins of delinquents’ behavior lay in their physical and socioeconomic surroundings. “For the most part, their homes may be found in rundown areas of the city,” the report observed. “Apartments here are overcrowded; every room is a bedroom.

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