The welfare-rights movement was a women’s liberation movement, as much a part of the revival of feminism as NOW, abortion-rights struggles, and affirmative-action demands. That it has not been viewed that way results from a racism that takes white feminism to be the paradigm of feminism, a sexism that allows male grievances to represent a class and race paradigm, and a youth bias that associates the social movements of the 1960s with the young and unencumbered. To understand welfare rights correctly, it is necessary to examine the aspirations of its participants as adult women and mothers. In making this argument I am not diminishing by one iota the degree to which the welfare-rights movement was a black movement, a part of the civil rights militancy which in turn stimulated a New Left. I am calling attention to the particular importance of women and women’s issues in that black militancy.
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