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Gateway to EqualityBlack Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis$
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Keona K. Ervin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168838

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168838.001.0001

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The Labor of Dignity

The Labor of Dignity

Black Working-Class Women’s Organizing in the Gateway City

(p.1) Introduction The Labor of Dignity
Gateway to Equality

Keona K. Ervin

University Press of Kentucky

Not long after St. Louisans entered into the new year of 1969, the final year of a decade of significant social upheaval at the local and national level, thousands of public-housing tenants struck against the St. Louis Housing Authority (SLHA). Together, the black working-class women whose lives were at the center of the debate over the future of the city staged one of the largest and earliest demonstrations of its kind. National news outlets provided coverage, politicians at the local, state, and national level weighed in and amended or adopted policies as a result, and several strike leaders emerged as national figures. While they issued numerous demands to city officials, above all, dissidents called for dignity and control. Drawing upon support from key leaders, public sympathy, and the sustainable political communities that they had built over time, strikers demanded the redistribution of power and a greater allocation of resources to manage their own affairs and become key brokers in decision-making processes. Their hard-hitting politics and critical views about municipal authority and governance were deeply rooted in their insistence on making black working-class women’s survival a matter of public concern....

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