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“Mother Power” Half a Century Later, with the Mother’s Outreach Network

“Mother Power” Half a Century Later, with the Mother’s Outreach Network

On the 5th Annual Basic Income Day of Action, the Mother’s Outreach Network (MON) organized a screening of Storming Caesars Palace, kicking off their latest learning and action series around DC women and guaranteed income.

We last spoke with MON’s Executive Director, Melody Webb, ten months ago. Since then, their DC Guaranteed Income Coalition project — now in its third year — has presented its work on narrative change and building intersectional coalitions at a national guaranteed income conference; partnered with the Fair Budget Coalition to advocate for a human needs-focused FY24 DC budget; and supported the study evaluating a tax credit for families proposed at the Council-level earlier this year.

Moving into October, and ahead of their first Stand with D.C. Moms! Fundraiser, MON is focused on empowering women and mothers “to know their rights,” as Melody wrote in a Ms. Magazine op-ed, and “to tell their stories in rooms where decisions are made.”

Storming Caesars Palace shows Ruby Duncan joining a welfare rights group alongside other mothers after losing her job as a hotel worker in Las Vegas. Together, they organized a massive protest that shut down Caesars Palace in 1971, igniting “Mother Power” to demand dignity, justice, and an adequate income.

More than 50 years later, we continue to see that “mothers of color confront not only the lower-wages and restricted access to well-paying jobs but also an undersupply of affordable childcare and the additional burden of child care responsibilities.” These conditions undoubtedly affect women’s health. The Economic Security Project shows that while guaranteed income is not the sole solution, a federal guaranteed income would be a timely, critical, and necessary public health intervention.

Here in DC, 18.8% of Black women workers lost their jobs between February and April 2020 due to COVID-19. During that time, 20% of Latinx women were unemployed — and both Black and Latinx women are disproportionately essential workers who also possess disproportionately greater caregiving responsibilities. Even pre-pandemic, 35% of Black families headed by single mothers were impoverished, as were 34% of Latinx headed households, and 22% of Asian-women headed households.

In Melody’s words, “We as a society have been taught to believe that asking for support implies some sort of moral flaw. The system has somehow led us to believe that to have the bravery to ask for support to provide for your kids means you are a bad person. We at Mother’s Outreach Network say, that’s not true.”

Locally, MON is advocating for direct cash payments to all regardless of income. Support them at their fundraiser on October 11, where you can hear directly from local leaders and moms.

Can’t make the fundraiser but want to learn more? Visit their website to read about their work, support them, and sign up for upcoming meetings and get involved!

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