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Maximum Feasible ParticipationAmerican Literature and the War on Poverty$
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Stephen Schryer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781503603677

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.001.0001

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Legal Services and the Cockroach Revolution

Legal Services and the Cockroach Revolution

Chapter:
(p.79) 3 Legal Services and the Cockroach Revolution
Source:
Maximum Feasible Participation
Author(s):

Stephen Schryer

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9781503603677.003.0004

This chapter focuses on the Chicano writer and lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta, whose novels, Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and Revolt of the Cockroach People, chart his transformation into a radical lawyer for Los Angeles’s Brown Power Movement. Acosta began his career with Legal Services, a network of War on Poverty–funded Legal Aid offices. When he turned to movement activism, he radicalized Legal Services’ demand that lawyers use their expertise to challenge laws that work against the interest of their lower-class clients. This demand became central to Acosta’s version of process art. At the same time, Acosta’s work replicates gender biases that ran throughout the War on Poverty. His political turn entailed his rejection of welfare mothers as clients in favor of militant young men—a turn that paralleled the War on Poverty’s focus on male delinquents.

Keywords:   Oscar Zeta Acosta, Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, Revolt of the Cockroach People, Chicano/Chicana movement, Brown Power, Chicano/Chicana literature, Legal Services, welfare rights movement, welfare mothers

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