The People Shall Rule
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With the election of a community organizer as president of the United States, the time is right to evaluate the current state of community organizing and the effectiveness of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Since 2002, ACORN has been dramatically expanding and raising its national profile; it has also been weathering controversy over its voter registration campaigns and an internal financial scandal.

The twelve chapters in this volume present the perspectives of insiders like founder Wade Rathke and leading outside practitioners and academics. The result is a thorough detailing of ACORN's founding and its changing strategies, including vivid accounts and analyses of its campaigns on the living wage, voter turnout, predatory lending, redlining, school reform, and community redevelopment, as well as a critical perspective on ACORN's place in the community organizing landscape.



Publié par
Date de parution 16 octobre 2009
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826516589
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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THEPEOPLESHALLRULE ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice Edited byRobert Fisher
The People Shall Rule
The People Shall Rule ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice
Robert Fisher, Editor
Vanderbilt University Press Nashville
© 2009 by Vanderbilt University Press Nashville, Tennessee 37235 All rights reserved
13 12 11 10 09 1 2 3 4 5
This book is printed on acidfree paper made from 50% postconsumer recycled content. Manufactured in the United States of America Cover design: Gary Gore Text design: Dariel Mayer
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data
The people shall rule : ACORN, community organizing, and the struggle for economic justice / Robert Fisher, editor. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 9780826516565 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 9780826516572 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. ACORN (Organization) 2. Community organization— United States. 3. Community development, Urban—United States. I. Fisher, Robert, 1947– HN65.P395 2009 361.80973—dc22 2008039357
Acknowledgments vii
Preface Why Study Community Organizing and ACORN?
Part I Contextualizing Community Organizing and ACORN History, Theory, and Comparative Perspectives
Community Organizing, ACORN, and Progressive Politics in America Peter Dreier 3
Understanding ACORN Sweat and Social Change Wade Rathke 40
Education as a Field for Community Organizing A Comparative Perspective Elaine Simon and Eva Gold 63
From Redlining to Reinvestment Economic Justice Advocacy, ACORN, and the Emergence of a Community Reinvestment Infrastructure Gregory D. Squires and Jan Chadwick 95
Community Organizing Theory and Practice Conservative Trends, Oppositional Alternatives James DeFilippis, Robert Fisher, and Eric Shragge 112
Part II ACORNCase Studies of Recent Work
ACORN and the Living Wage Movement Stephanie Luce 131
The Battle of Brooklyn ACORN’s Modus Operandi John Atlas 153
Community Resistance to School Privatization The Case of New York City Janelle Scott and Norm Fruchter 180
“Don’t Be a Blockhead” ACORN, Protest Tactics, and Organizational Scale Robert Fisher, Fred Brooks, and Daniel Russell 206
10ACORN Experiments in Minority Voter Mobilization Donald Green and Melissa R. Michelson 235
Part III Reflections
11Does ACORN’s Work Contribute to Movement Building? Gary Delgado 251
12Changing Direction ACORN and the Future of Community Organizing Robert Fisher 2 75
Contributors 287
As with any volume, there are many people to thank. Most of all, the editor would like to thank the authors for their timely submissions, com mitment to the book project, and patience. Staff at the Urban and Com munity Studies program at the University of Connecticut—Maria Winnick and Lola ElliottHugh—provided invaluable assistance, especially with the “Researching ACORN” conference we assembled in December 2005. Much thanks also goes to Edna McBreen, then Associate Vice Provost of the TriCampus, and Kay Davidson, then Dean of the School of Social Work, for their support with that event. Students in my graduate course on community organizing, especially Suzanne Accashian, Erin Bryne, Re becca DeSimone, Lynn Mercieri, and Christine Sullivan, took on the task of focusing on ACORN and putting on a conference with good cheer and intellectual interest. Allison Fisher, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, was an incredible asset in overseeing transportation of par ticipants, no small organizing feat. I’d also like to thank some friends and fellow academics who attended the conference and provided helpful com ments, including James DeFilippis, Lee Staples, and Heidi Swarts. Tara Smollen and Nora Bishop were critical in completing this manuscript, and Nora provided additional research on ACORN and community organiz ing. Sally Tamarkin also helped with the last stages of the book. Jeff Or dower, Midwest Field Director for ACORN, first planted the idea for this book. Wade Rathke got the project moving much quicker than normal, encouraging an organizer’s rather than an academic’s schedule. Unfortu nately, since then we’ve been on academic time. Lastly, in the final throes of putting together the manuscript, Michael Ames, editor at Vanderbilt University Press, helped shape it into a more cogent book. I want to thank all those mentioned here and those unintentionally skipped for this rich experience and for making this book possible.  I’d also like to add that this book has deep roots. It grows out of work I’ve done on the field of community organizing since the late 1970s,
The People Shall Rule
which includes five books and dozens of articles. It grows out of my cur rent research with Eric Shragge and James DeFilippis on developing a critical perspective of community initiatives. But it also grows out of work I’ve done with ACORN, starting with interviews in Houston with new ACORN organizers in the early 1980s, to participating in a rainbowco alition style campaign in Houston around a living wage referendum that was resoundingly defeated, to studying ACORN’s effort to build a com prehensive community initiative in the south Bronx in the 1990s, to more recently evaluating their campaign against predatory refund anticipation loans. Like those of a lot of other authors in this volume, my political history, as well as academic career, runs parallel with the growth of the field of community organizing as well as that of ACORN. I’ve been a sympathetic but critical observer of both for decades. In December 2005, in order to better understand ACORN and where it fits with contem porary community organization, we held a conference at the University of Connecticut, where I teach. Many of the contributors to this volume presented their initial ideas there and received feedback not only from fellow authors but also from ACORN staff and leaders, as well as from independent scholars interested in and critical of ACORN’s work.
Preface Why Study Community Organizing and ACORN?
The time is right for this book. Communitybased initiatives are a popular form of social change. The “turn to community” is a hallmark of our era, especially in the United States but increasingly worldwide. At the same time that communitybased organizations have proliferated, however, there has been since at least 1980 an ascendancy of conservative and re actionary politics and policies throughout most of the world. This trend has produced a paradoxical context of growing efforts at the local level occurring simultaneously with harsher conditions and greater obstacles to change at the community level. When compared with the dramatic shift to the Right in society, the outcomes of all this communitybased work hardly seem to equal its sum total. We need to better understand the lim its and potential of community organizing.  Moreover, it is an excellent time for a study of contemporary com munity organizing to focus on ACORN. Founded in 1970, ACORN has caught a “second wind” since 2002, more than doubling in size. As the organization has become more visible, so have its chroniclers and crit ics, both Left and Right. Up until recently, however, armslength re search on the organization has been rare. The only two published books on ACORN—Gary Delgado’sOrganizing the Movement:The Roots and Growth of ACORN, a seminal account of the organization’s first ten to fifteen years, and Daniel Russell’sPolitical Organizing in Grassroots Poli tics—were written in 1986 and 1990, respectively. Both were revised PhD dissertations by authors very close to ACORN. Interestingly enough, the absence of a literature is not the case for the overall field of community based organizations. There is, for example, a growing scholarship on the work of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the direct descendant to Saul Alinsky’s work. In the last decade alone, new books on the IAF have included at least four studies by academics and two by IAF insiders.  Our title,The People Shall Rule, reflects well the populist ideals be
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