Pedagogy of the Poor
Building the Movement to End Poverty

Willie Baptist and Jan Rehmann
Teachers College Press
Teaching for Social Justice Series
Published 2011, 208 pages

Paperback ISBN: 0807752282
Cloth ISBN: 0807752290

Pedagogy of the Poor: Building the Movement to End Poverty presents a new kind of interdisciplinary pedagogy that brings together antipoverty grassroots activism and relevant social theories about poverty. Closely linked to the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary, this unique book combines the oral history of a renowned antipoverty organizer with accessible introductions to relevant social theories, case studies, in-class student debates, and pedagogical reflections. This multilayered approach makes the book useful to both social activists committed to eradicating poverty and educators looking for ways to teach about the struggles for economic and social justice.Pedagogy of the Poor is an essential tool of self-education and leadership development for a broad social movement led by the poor to end poverty.

Featuring a 5-part series of interviews with Willie Baptist, this important book examines:

  • Firsthand examples of the poor organizing the poor over the past three decades.
  • The effect of neoliberalism, high-tech capitalism, and the economic crisis on poverty.
  • Theoretical lessons drawn from the Watts Uprising, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, and the National Union of the Homeless.
  • The role of religion and morality in the antipoverty movement.
  • The relevance of hegemony theory and ideology theory for social movements.
  • Resources, methods, and practices for teaching social justice in the secondary classroom.


  • Introduction: Plight, Fight, and Insight of the Poor—The Need for a Pedagogy to End Poverty, Willie Baptist and Jan Rehmann
  • Interview with Willie Baptist (I): From the Cotton Fields to the Watts Uprisings
  • Different Perspectives on Poverty: An Introduction, Jan Rehmann
  • Interview with Willie Baptist (II): The Contributions of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Root Causes of Poverty—Neoliberalism, High-Tech Capitalism, and Economic Crisis, Jan Rehmann
  • Interview with Willie Baptist (III): King’s Poor People’s Campaign, “Operation Cereal Bowl,” and Labor Struggles at the Steel Plant
  • A Case Study on Organizing: The Struggle for Water in Postindustrial Detroit, Chris Caruso
  • Interview with Willie Baptist (IV): Lessons from the National Union of the Homeless—A Debate on Organizing
  • The Relevance of Gramsci’s Theory of Hegemony for Social Justice Movements, Jan Rehmann
  • Interview with Willie Baptist (V): Evaluating Today’s Struggles—Stories from the Movement to End Poverty
  • Ideology Theory and Antipoverty Movements, Jan Rehmann
  • Teach as We Fight, Learn as We Lead: Lessons in Pedagogy and the Poverty Initiative Model, Willie Baptist and Liz Theoharis