Dottie Stevens died at 72 on March 27 2014 in Brookline, MA, after a long battle with cancer and a lifelong struggle against poverty. She started her first anti-poverty organization while she was a college student on welfare. She ran for governor of Massachusetts in 1990 on an “elect the victims of poverty” platform. The Boston Globe commented that after her unsuccessful effort, she “remained a networking dynamo for the disadvantaged for the rest of her life.”
Over the years she fought poverty in so many different ways that the Boston City Council recognized her tireless battles against it. She founded a number of antipoverty and social justice organizations, including Survivors News, a journal for the poor. She was also a board member of the National Welfare Rights Union.
A tribute to her noted that when she spoke out, she “. . . moved every audience, whether it was huge or small demonstrations before the Statehouse, testifying at hearings, in small classrooms, or at national conventions, her message of hope and calls to action were clear, authentic and effective. With Dottie’s encouragement and belief in our abilities, we who worked with her were able to write, speak out, organize, educate and raise ourselves out of obscurity and poverty.”
Although she dropped out of high school she never stopped studying people and the U.S. system of attempting to manage poverty rather than end it. Eventually, although she was always poor, she got a Masters degree from a special program at the University of Massachusetts.
Another son, Joe Goodrich, told reporters, “Here’s a woman who had a master’s degree and could have gone in any direction . . . She really could have capitalized on it if she was a greedier person, but she just cared too much about people. She chose to stay poverty-stricken to help those in that position. That speaks volumes about a person.”
One of her fellow anti-poverty activists was Jim Stewart, director of the First Church Shelter in Cambridge MA and a longtime advocate for poor and homeless people. He said she “had no interest at all at playing an insider game. She wanted to bear witness and speak the truth about something she knew a lot about: being a poor person and trying to survive in a society and an economy that seems to be growing less and less concerned about the needs of people like that.”
“She was extremely brilliant,” said her longtime friend Claire Cummings, a sociology professor emeritus. “She was a strategist of the highest order. She understood the public; she understood the system. She could talk about welfare and talk to every possible kind of audience, and she ended up changing their minds. I saw that happen over and over again. To me, that’s incredible power, incredible talent.”
By Allen Harris CHICAGO– With tremendous enthusiasm, fighting spirit and unity, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America was established during a convention held in Chicago on April 29 and 1995.
Attending were 73 delegates and 67 observers, as well as representatives of 30 areas and the national office. They came from 22 states, the District of Columbia and the Lakota Nation.
The meeting was the second national convention of the organization founded in Chicago in April, 1993 and originally called the National Organizing Committee.
Ranging in age from 17 to 80, the participants were Native American, white, black, Latino, Asian and Arab. They were urban, suburban and rural. They were secular and Christian, Muslim, Jewish and people of other faiths.
On the Steering Committee were General Baker, Marian Kramer, Jitu Sadiki, Abdul Alkalimat, Tonny Algood, Ethel Long-Scott, Dottie Stevens, Beth Gonzalez, Jo Ann Capalbo, Nacho Gonzalez, Manuel Torres, Laura Garcia, Stephanie Shanks-Meile, Claire McClinton and Lenny Brody.
Democratic Socialists of America forum
On October 30, 2001, Boston Democratic Socialists of America organized forum "Welfare, Children and Families: The Impact of Welfare Reform", with William Julius Wilson, Dottie Stevensof Survival News, Jack Clark and Bob Haynes.