In 1971, Geraldine Miller founded in New York City the Household Technicians, a group that fought for equal rights for women who worked informally as maids, nannies and cooks. Geraldine understood the struggles of being a household worker because she had started doing domestic work at an early age. The group pressured employers to comply with minimum wage standards and Social Security laws. In 1974, Miller worked closely with Rep. Shirley Chisholm to help household workers win the right to be included in the Federal Minimum Wage Act.
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Betty was an active community volunteer for many years. From her first floor apartment and porch in the Neighborhood Women Houses, accompanied by her faithful dog, Rocky, she functioned as a neighborhood ambassador, talking and listening to everyone, offering wisdom and friendship. A member of Neighborhood Women Renaissance Housing Board for ten years,
Marie Leanza talks to Jan Peterson about how she became a neighborhood activist and leader with the support and guidance of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women. This interview was made during the summer of 2016.
Marie is a lifelong Williamsburg resident. She became involved in 1975 with the National Congress of Neighborhood Women through the Neighborhood Women College Program. Marie Leanza worked for over three decades at St Nicks Alliance specializing in senior housing. She led the fight against redlining in Williamsburg, which resulted in a commitment from Anchor Bank to invest five million dollars in the neighborhood. She was key to the establishment of the Building Survival Fund.
A native of North Carolina, Mildred served as president of the Cooper Park Tenants Association for many years. A devout worshiper in the Free Gift Baptist Church, Mildred manifested her faith in the community by establishing youth and headstart programs, getting sidewalks and play areas built, and revitalizing the community center. She represented Copper Park Houses on GREC Community Coalition. Continue reading
Tish and Guido are married partners in life as well as in advocacy. Lifetime Brooklyn residents, they were members of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation (GREC). In 1978 they formed the Concerned Citizens of Withers Street and Area Block Association. One year later, Tish graduated from the Neighborhood Women College Program with Continue reading
Margaret Carnegie was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, on April 27, 1910. She moved to New York in 1920 where she attended the Florence Garnett Training School for Girls, Junior High School 136, and Morris High School in the Bronx. In 1953, Carnegie moved to the recently built Cooper Park Houses. For the next forty years of her life, she became deeply involved in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg community. Carnegie had a special interest in improving the livelihood of seniors. She worked for better housing and safety for the elderly, as well as activities for their mental and physical health. She is credited with bringing ‘Grandparents Day’ (first Sunday after Labor Day) to New York. Grandparents Avenue, located along a section of Continue reading
Ann Giordano was born in Brooklyn, New York. She is a member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg-Greenpoint. Ann learned the relevance of collective action at an early age when she volunteered to run a candy store after the owner, an elder member of the community, collapsed. Throughout the years she became a community leader, organizing the residents of Williamsburg-Greenpoint to solve problems facing their community. She led Operation Main Street to rehabilitate Grand Street through a process of beautification and business improvement. Continue reading
Mildred Tudy-Johnston and her daughter Janice Tudy-Jackson narrate their experience as new residents of Cooper Park Houses in 1953, and the role Mildred had as an activist and founder of the Cooper Park Houses Tenant Association to improve the housing and living conditions of the community.
Mildred Tudy-Johnston and her daughter Janice Tudy-Jackson, excerpt from interview with Susana Arellano, digital recording, Brooklyn, New York, April 2012, in author’s possession.
Jan Peterson, Neighborhood Women founder, explains the context in which the National Congress of Neighborhood Women was created and the programs they developed throughout the years.
Jan Peterson, excerpt form interview with Wesleyan University students Abigail Baker, Emily Trambert and Stephanie Aracena, Booklyn, NY, March 31st 2012, digital recording, in possession of Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg-Greenpoint.
Woman activist Tish Ciancotta narrates her involvement with the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and her experience in the Greenpoint Hospital Battle.
Tish Ciancotta, excerpt from phone interview with Wesleyan students Emma Kingsberg and Stephanie Aracena, Middletown, CT, April 7th 2012, digital recording, in possession of Neighborhood Women of Williamsburg-Greenpoint.
Sally Martino Fisher, excerpt from interview with Tamar Carroll and Martha Ackelsberg, Queens, New York, 23 March 2004, digital recording, in author’s possession. Included in How Did Working-Class Feminists Meet the Challenges of Working accross Differences? The National Congress of Neighborhood Women, 1974-2006, Documents Selected and Interpreted by Tamar Carroll.