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The Life, Death, and Rebirth of ACORN


ACORN members march in front of the U.S. Treasury, March 11 2008. Photo by Flickr user onlinecampaigns.

It took 40 years to build ACORN, the national community organization which at its peak had more than half a million members.  But it took just a few months to bring it down.  Now, local organizers are trying to rebuild from the ground up, while not forgetting the lessons they learned.  On this edition, the assassination of ACORN.  And a look at how the groups’ absence is affecting elections, poverty, and the continuing housing crisis?

Special thanks to Demos, and to Race, Poverty & the Environment.


Steve Kest, former ACORN executive director; John Atlas, author of ‘Seeds of Change’, the Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Anti-Poverty Community Organizing Group; Annie McKinzie & Bill Chorneau, former ACORN Oakland members; Bertha Lewis, former ACORN CEO and chief organizer; Morris Hilter, Denise Hilton, Travis, ACORN Tampa members; John McCain, US Senator; Ina Gutierrez, Interfaith Worker Justice deputy director of operations; Tasha Alberty, Oakland homeowner facing foreclosure; Martha Daniels, Oakland ACORN organizer; Vivian Richardson, San Francisco homeowner facing foreclosure; Grace Martinez, San Francisco ACCE community organizer; Nealie Yarbrough, Ian Haddow, San Francisco ACCE members.


ACORN Descendents Keep Their Traditions, While Fighting Foreclosures

As the 2009 ACORN scandal quickly unfolded and funding started to dry up, the groups’ members and organizers had to jump ship.  Many formed new local, or statewide groups, that maintained the commitment to have low-income people in positions of leadership, and make their own decisions.  There’s the Texas organizing project.  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. New England United for Justice  And in California, as Jen Chien reports, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment has taken on foreclosure defense as one of their primary issues.

The Story of ACORN: A 40-Year History of Community Organizing

Bertha Lewis Keynote Address at 2012 California State of the Region Conference

For More Information:

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Texas Organizing Project Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment
New England United for Justice
John Atlas
Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group by John Atlas
The People Shall Rule: ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice
Demos Race, Poverty and the Environment
Wade Rathke: Chief Organizer Blog
Interfaith Worker Justice


The fall of ACORN: A timeline – The Week Can Obama Win Without ACORN? – Molly Ball – The Atlantic Who Needs ACORN? Anti-ACORN Messages Threaten Staff and Obama (AUDIO) Transcript of Interview with Bertha Lewis

Karl Rove Loses Election After Being Checkmated By Cyber Sleuths


Gastr Del Sol, “Mouth Canyon” Gastr Del Sol, “Dry Bones in the valley” John Beltran, “Collage of Dreams” Aphex Twin, “Cliffs”

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  1. Is this author off his Meds and if so for how long. The things he attempts to dismiss have been documented as well as video documented. He seems like he is a nice man but a nice man does not make him a truthful man or a man of truth! So many people according to this author are misled even after watching the actual videos of Fraud. He must be “The Wizard of OZ” Pay no attention to the videos, pay no attention to the persons convicted of fraud, pay no attention most of all!

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  2. The videos of ACORN were mostly fraudulent. O’Keefe did not actually dress like a pimp when he visited the offices. (Didn’t you notice that neither O’Keefe nor his lady friend were ever pictured in the offices?) O’Keefe went to over 20 offices before he finally found a shady one. The video where the ACORN employee seems to conspire to sneak underage girls into the country was actually pumping O’Keefe for information that he could — and did — share with the police as soon as O’Keefe left. ACORN made mistakes, but they were murdered by the right who consider poor people politcally organizing to be the biggest threat in existence to the right, who think that a few useless parasites who produce nothing and do nothing but manipulate paper should have all the wealth while the working people who actually produce all the wealth live in penury. ACORN is dead. Long live ACORN.

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  3. ACORN was investigated by three separate government agencies — the Congressional Research Service, the Office of the California Attorney General, and the Government Accountability Office — and no evidence of criminal activity by ACORN was found by any of those agencies. There were a few cases in which individuals falsely filled out voter registration cards, but ACORN found those false registration cards, identified them to the authorities, and fired those workers. There was no criminal activity by ACORN.

    To get more details about those altered videos see:

    ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy

    O’Keefe and Breitbart ACORN Videos ‘Severely Edited’


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