Labor historian asks ‘What if Poor Women Ran the World?’ in upcoming First Wednesday talk

BRATTLEBORO — Labor historian Annelise Orleck will recount the struggle for welfare rights by Las Vegas women in the 1970s in a talk at Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.

Her talk, “What if Poor Women Ran the World?” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays lecture series, and is free and open to the public.

Orleck will tell the story of nine African-American union maids in Las Vegas who challenged welfare cuts and built a long-lasting, vibrant anti-poverty program run by poor mothers.

Orleck, professor of history at Dartmouth College, teaches American political history, women's history, and the history of race, ethnicity and immigration, and Jewish studies.

She is author of “Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working Class Politics in the United States” (1995), and “Storming Caesar's Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty” (2006).

She also is co-editor of “The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right” (1997).

The Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May in nine communities statewide, featuring speakers of national and regional renown.

Upcoming Brattleboro talks include “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Writing the Red Wheel in Vermont” with Conductor and pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn on Feb. 5; “Rumi, A Soul on Fire” with Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine on March 5; and “Fallingwater: An American Masterpiece” with H. Nicholas Muller III, retired executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, on April 2.

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