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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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“Jobs and Homes … Freedom”

“Jobs and Homes … Freedom”

Working-Class Struggles against Postwar Urban Inequality

(p.145) 6 “Jobs and Homes … Freedom”
Gateway to Equality

Keona K. Ervin

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 6 uncovers the links between jobs and public housing. From the vantage point of overlooked historical actors, the chapter examines the massive urban renewal programs that razed black working-class neighborhoods and constructed massive public-housing structures throughout the city. The dignity for which black working-class women struggled pointed to a cluster of trenchant urban problems that St. Louis began encountering in the prewar period and later experienced in much more concentrated fashion. This chapter highlights the lives of public housing tenants and the labor activism of Ora Lee Malone to examine black women’s struggles against urban inequality. It also shows how black middle-class women reformers used their platforms to advance black working-class women’s causes. The work of the women featured in this chapter directly led to the 1969 rent strike, in which public-housing tenants struck against the St. Louis Housing Authority. In one of the first and largest rent stoppages in the nation, strike participants made tenant control a centerpiece of their platform.

Keywords:   Public housing, Welfare rights, Urban decline/inequality, Black working-class women, Urban renewal, Rent strike, Urban inequality

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