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People Power
The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky

Editor(s): Aaron Schutz, Mike Miller

Saul Alinsky, according to Time Magazine in 1970, was a "prophet of power to the people," someone who "has possibly antagonized more people . . . than any other living American." People Power introduces the major organizers who adopted and modified Alinsky's vision across the United States:

--Fred Ross, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the Community Service Organization and National Farm Workers Association
--Nicholas von Hoffman and the Woodlawn Organization
--Tom Gaudette and the Northwest Community Organization
--Ed Chambers, Richard Harmon, and the Industrial Areas Foundation
--Shel Trapp, Gale Cincotta, and National People's Action
--Heather Booth, Midwest Academy, and Citizen Action
--Wade Rathke and ACORN

Weaving classic texts with interviews and their own context-setting commentaries, the editors of People Power provide the first comprehensive history of Alinsky-based organizing in the tumultuous period from 1955 to 1980, when the key organizing groups in the United States took form. Many of these selections--previously available only on untranscribed audiotapes or in difficult-to-read mimeograph or Xerox formats--appear in print here for the first time.

Biography of Editor(s)

Aaron Schutz, Professor, Department of Educational Policy and Community Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is the author of two previous books on social action.
Mike Miller was a leader in the pre-1960s' birth of the student movement at UC Berkeley, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary, and director of an Alinsky community organizing project. He has been an organizer for more than fifty years.


  • "Editors Schutz and Miller bring a series of well-developed examples of how Alinsky's focus on understanding power relationships leveraged the democratic process and mobilized residents in a power struggle in support of marginalized communities. Seven carefully detailed case studies illustrate how organizers employing the Alinsky tradition have mobilized different constituencies for effective social change. Highly recommended."
  • "People Power is indispensable for community organizers and all those who seek a more just and democratic society. Its breadth of Alinsky-tradition material and editorial commentary are an important part of the discussion we must have in this country if we are to have any real democracy."
    Bob Moses, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary, 1961–65; Founder and President, The Algebra Project
  • "People Power is the most definitive rendering of the work of Saul Alinsky, a giant in the theory and practice of community organizing. A must-read for anyone who wants to do or teach about how to reach and organize people for collective action."
    Lillian B. Rubin, sociologist, psychotherapist, and author of twelve books, including Worlds of Pain
  • "People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky brings together in one place many of Alinsky's most important organizing disciples who implemented his ideas on the ground and, in the process, added their own field-tested insights. Through their interviews, articles, speeches, and organizational documents, they reveal why the Alinsky organizing tradition remains relevant in our contemporary world. With their own writing, coeditors Schutz and Miller weave together the various strands into a coherent whole."
    Sanford Horwitt, author of Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy