Organizing the South Bronx

By Jim Rooney

Subjects: Sociology
Series: SUNY series, The New Inequalities
Paperback : 9780791422106, 296 pages, November 1994
Hardcover : 9780791422090, 296 pages, November 1994

Table of contents

Foreword by Nathan Glazer


Introduction: The Design and Purpose of the Study

Part One: Context

1. The Bronx: "The City Without a Slum"

2. Why Did the South Bronx Collapse?

Part Two: The IAF in New York City

3. Alinsky, Chambers, and Citizen Movements

4. The IAF in Queens and Brooklyn

5. Old Testament Builders Nehemiah and Robbins

6. Relational Organizing: Launching South Bronx Churches

7. South Bronx Civics: Morris High School

Part Three: South Bronx Case Study

8. Here We Will Build!

9. War on 404! The Reaction to the Action

10. Digging in for the Long Haul

11. Armistice in the War on 404

Part Four: Analysis

12. Was It a Just War?

13. Learning from South Bronx Churches






This is a story of heroic and articulate individuals who were able to defy overwhelming odds and build affordable housing in the South Bronx. It is about the process of teaching citizens in a low-income neighborhood how to participate in public life.

Very little is written about the catastrophic and precipitous collapse of the South Bronx, although its fate is universally cited as emblematic of urban hopelessness. This inquiry focuses on community organizers who are sifting through the wreckage and making progress in battling an inept municipal government and the centrifugal forces of decay. The locus is a coalition of forty minority congregations, who battled the city of New York for vacant land in order to build owner-occupied row houses. This is a study of how to educate adults in a democracy to find their voice and wield the power that is inherent in large numbers of organized citizens.


"This book tells a fascinating story about the relationships between a viable network of organizations and the political leadership of New York City. It provides a real feel for the people, interests, and issues that were part of these debates. " — Joe R. Feagin, University of Florida

"This is an outstanding book—well-written, clearly organized, engaging, interesting, important. " — Bill Ayers, University of Chicago