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May 15 , 2009

The Dignity of Resistance

Women Residents' Activism in Chicago Public Housing


The Dignity of Resistance chronicles the four decade history of Chicago's Wentworth Gardens public housing residents' grassroots activism. This comprehensive case study explores why and how these African-American women creatively and effectively engaged in organizing efforts to resist increasing government disinvestment in public housing and the threat of demolition. Roberta M. Feldman and Susan Stall, utilizing a multi-disciplinary lens, explore the complexity and resourcefulness of Wentworth women's grassroots, organizing the ways in which their identities as poor African-American women and mothers both circumscribe their lives and shape their resistance. Through the inspirational voices of the activists, Feldman and Stall challenge portrayals of public housing residents as passive, alienated victims of despair. We learn instead how women residents collectively have built a cohesive, vital community, cultivated outside technical assistance, organizational and institutional supports, and have attracted funding - all to support the local facilities, services and programs necessary for the everyday needs for survival, and ultimately to save their home from demolition.

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