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October 21, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Tompkins Square

Duration: Saturday October 21, 10am-1pm & 2:30-5:30pm. Please note there is a break between sessions, from 1pm -2:30pm.

Content: It’s been 30 years since the Tompkins Square Park “riot,” and the story of how homeless individuals and families organized and built a formidable political force in the 80’s and 90’s is still misunderstood and understudied.

This course is an introduction to the National Union of the Homeless (NUH) – an organization led by homeless individuals and families which was active from the mid-80’s to the early 90’s, and came to include some of the key leaders of the Tompkins Square Park encampment. At its height, the NUH had over 25,000 members in over 20 cities, and led coordinated campaigns to takeover empty HUD housing and demand it be turned over to homeless families to live in. The instructors were all active leaders in the NUH and its affiliated student organization, Empty the Shelters. The course will cover the context for the rise of the NUH, the history of the movement, lessons from its successes and failures, and the organizing approach it helped to define – “the poor organizing the poor.”


  • Willie Baptist
    Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father of three who came out of the Watts uprisings and the Black Student Movement. He has 50 years of experience educating and organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed including working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers, as an educator and organizer with … Read More ›
  • Savina Martin
    Savina Martin is a lifelong activist and organizer from Massachusetts. She is an Army Veteran, and over the years has mobilized and organized around the war on drugs affecting homeless men, women and veterans in Boston and San Diego, CA. In 1993, she helped to coordinate resources to refurbish an … Read More ›
  • Kristin Nicely-Colangelo
    Kristin Colangelo is a formally homeless mother of three. She has organized poor and homeless families for the past 20 years. She is the Membership Director, the National Secretary and one of the regional organizers of the National Union of the Homeless. She is the coordinator of the University of the … Read More ›
  • Phil Wider
    Phil Wider has been an organizer and political educator in the U.S. movement to end poverty for the last three decades. His entry point to the U.S. survival movement was through the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Union of the Homeless, where he was an organizer and educator with its educational arm … Read More ›


October 21, 2018
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
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Josina Machel & Michael Ratner Combined Classroom
320 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018 United States
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