An enlightening, comprehensive account of family poverty throughout New York City’s history.
The extreme poverty of New York City neighborhoods, such as the South Bronx, Brownsville and Harlem, is nothing new. In fact, as Nunez and Sribnick show in this remarkable work, it’s a phenomenon that goes back to colonial times—the city’s first poorhouse for the unemployed, homeless and sick opened in 1736. “Poverty has existed in New York as long as, if not longer than, it has anywhere in the United States,” the authors observe. They travel through eight distinct eras and detail how, with varying degrees of success, New York politicians and social reformers tried to combat poverty. Their ideas and initiatives were shaped by ideological biases that still influence today’s policies. For example, colonials believed that the poor were victims of their own personal failings, which required that they be dosed with work and religion; Jacob Riis and other 19th-century reformers believed that the causes of poverty weren’t personal but economic and environmental. In the 1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration almost went full circle, implementing “workfare” programs that required welfare recipients to participate in job training; this pro-business, pro-development orientation, the authors write, has made New York what it is today—safer, wealthier and cleaner but “with pockets of abject poverty and more homeless than ever before.” Nunez and Sribnick avoid delivering what could have been a dry sociological treatise by including vignettes from the lives of poor and homeless people; one of them, Carmen Santana, shares a cramped two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment with her boyfriend and four of her children, the floors covered in “peeling linoleum” and the children sharing a single bunk bed. “[W]hen it comes to family poverty, there are no quick fixes,” the authors caution, but they convincingly argue that as long as New York, and the United States, remain wedded to “market-based solutions...all the proposals and plans will be window dressing.”
An engaging historical study of New York City poverty.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)