Organizing the South Bronx

Jim Rooney, Author, Nathan Glazer, Foreword by
Jim Rooney, Author, Nathan Glazer, Foreword by State University of New York Press $55.5 (283p) ISBN 978-0-7914-2209-0
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-0-7914-2210-6
Hardcover - 283 pages - 978-0-585-04520-7
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For urban social-change activists, the strategies and movements inspired by the late Saul Alinsky are the stuff of legend. Alinsky, who died in 1972, taught professional organizers to serve as catalysts, enabling local residents in poor communities to form and control their own movements. Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) has been around for decades. But because the IAF's activities have received little publicity, just how Alinsky-style movements work is not well known. Now Rooney, a Rye, N.Y., high school teacher, has given us a valuable study of South Bronx Churches (SBC), an IAF project begun in one of the nation's most blighted urban communities in the late 1980s. This is a thorough and insightful book, combining astute historical research with firsthand reporting of SBC's activities. Rooney describes how suburbanization, government neglect and unwise policy transformed the South Bronx from a model community for upwardly mobile immigrants into a slum. He combines that tale with the story of Alinksy and the IAF, bringing them together at the turn of this decade, as people in a Church-based organization set out to reform their community and how it's governed. Along the way, the author gives nuts-and-bolts organizing lessons, making this a useful tool for students and others interested in social change and community empowerment. (Nov.)
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