A compelling study of how a marginalized group formed a national movement for social justice
In Tell It Like It Is, Mary E. Triece brings to light a lesser known yet influential social movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s—the welfare rights movement, led and run largely by poor black mothers in the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). Her study combines theory and critical analysis to explore rhetorical strategies and direct actions women employed as they argued for fair welfare legislation in both formal policy debates and in the streets. Triece focuses on how welfare recipients spoke for themselves in forums often marked by widely held stereotypes.
Triece explains the influence of racism on welfare legislation throughout the early 1900s and explores how welfare recipients cultivated agency while challenging stereotypes such as the "welfare cheat" and the "welfare mother." To illuminate her study, Triece uses historical documents including pamphlets, flyers, position statements, and convention materials. She examines the official newspaper of the NWRO, the Welfare Fighter, and draws on the congressional testimonies of welfare recipients, providing the first in-depth look at the ways that these women represented themselves in this formal political forum.
Tell It Like It Is presents an interdisciplinary study touching on communication, rhetoric, politics, feminist theory, and the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. It also engages in ongoing scholarly debate regarding language, knowledge, reality, and the potential for social change. Triece contributes to each of these disciplines as she explores how a marginalized and beleaguered people managed to mobilize a nationwide movement.
Mary E. Triece is a professor in the School of Communication at the University of Akron. She is the author of Protest and Popular Culture: Women in the U.S. Labor Movement, 1894–1917 and On the Picket Line: Strategies of Working-Class Women during the Depression, winner of the Bonnie Ritter Book Award. Triece has also published in Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Communication Studies, Women's Studies in Communication, and the Western Journal of Communication.