Publisher: Beacon Press
Released: April 25, 2023
The story of the revolutionary Black women welfare organizers of Las Vegas who spearheaded an evergreen, radical revisioning of American economic justice
In Storming Caesars Palace, Annelise Orleck brings into focus the hidden figures of a trailblazing movement who proved that poor mothers are the real experts on poverty, providing job training, libraries, medical access, daycare centers and housing to the poor in Las Vegas throughout the 1970s. Orleck introduces Ruby Duncan, a sharecropper turned White House advisor who led the charge on the long war on poverty waged against the poor Black mothers of Las Vegas. According to Ruby, “Poor women must dream their highest dreams and never stop,” and she, with the help of Mary Wesley and Alversa Beals, did exactly that.
A vivid retelling of an overlooked American history, Orleck follows the Black women who went on to lead a revolutionary movement against welfare injustice. These women eventually founded Operation Life, one of the first women-led community organizations in the nation and one of the country’s most successful antipoverty programs. They went on to gain national traction and garnered the respect of key political figures such as Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.
With a new prologue and epilogue that explore the race and labor movements paramount to the political climate of 2021, Orleck masterfully blends together history, social analysis, and personal storytelling in a story that is as enraging as it is empowering.