Interview with Slim Coleman
QUESTION 6
JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

OK, tell me about the POWER. What was it and why did it come about?

SLIM COLEMAN:

People organized for welfare and employment rights. Ah, it really started, ah, with, ah--

JAMES A. DeVINNEY:

Just start again.

SLIM COLEMAN:

POWER was People Organized for Welfare and Employment Rights, ah, and it started really with a group of welfare rights groups in different communities. One out of the Heart of the Uptown Coalition, I was the president of that group at that time, ah, that, ah, so we wanted general assistance payments to go up to something that you could live on. General Assistance was a kind of State public aid payment for people that were disabled or unemployed. And, ah, we wanted, they wanted to drop the general assistance payments down to about 115 dollars a month. You couldn't find a place to rent anywhere in the city of Chicago for 115 dollars a month, even a little room. So they fought, ah, through the, ah, spring of 1982 and went to the legislature. They really just got no respect. They couldn't get a legislator to talk to them. Ah, ah, so after, ah, the final resolution of it, which actually we got to, we got a compromise at 144 dollars a month, which again, was not enough to pay rent, much less anything else, ah, We had a meeting, ah, said, "We're going to have to get some respect out of these politicians. The only thing that they respect is votes. And, we're going to have to get our own folks registered" We were four in a group, the group then called POWER, with about 23 different, ah, community based organizations around the city and determined to go register people at the Public Aid and Unemployment offices**.