The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Leadership, Activism, and Economic Human Rights: May 9th at 5 PM, Top of the Hop

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Monday, May 9, 2011
5:00 PM • Top of the Hop
"Leadership, Activism, and Economic Human Rights"

Cheri Honkala
Founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU)

Cheri Honkala was a single mother collecting public assistance in Philadelphia when she founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU). After speaking with other mothers in her situation around North Philadelphia, she realized there was a need for community support and raising awareness on issues related to homelessness, affordable housing, and most importantly economic human rights. The KWRU was Honkala's effort to join the historic legacy of activists who have attempted to mobilize a mass movement by poor people in the United States so that they might make use of the political power they have by virtue of being US citizens.

Cheri Honkala's visit to Dartmouth has been organized by the Class of 2011 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows

This discussion will focus on Honkala's struggles as a leader in under-resourced conditions. As an organizer for welfare rights in the 1990s, Honkala was combating broad based political and social forces that had been coalescing since FDR first wrote federal welfare into law. By 1991, when she founded the organization, almost all of society had agreed it was time to "end welfare as we know it." Honkala will also discuss her emphasis on economic human rights as the foundational motivation for this movement, focusing primarily on the ways in which she attempted to add this concept of rights to the larger US consciousness of citizenship entitlements.

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