Saul Alinsky

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Saul Alinsky
Born Saul David Alinsky
30 January 1909
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died 12 June 1972 (aged 63)
Carmel, California, United States
Nationality American
Known for "Community organizer"

Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 - June 12, 1972) was a Jewish/American Communist agitator, who developed methods for controlling and organizing communities. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both have been influenced by the Saul Alinsky's doctrine. His organizing skills were focused on improving the living conditions of poor communities across North America. In the 1950s, he began turning his attention to improving conditions in the African-American ghettos, beginning with Chicago's and later traveling to other ghettos in California, Michigan, New York City, and a dozen other "trouble spots".

Alinsky's parents were Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in criminology. He worked with Clifford Shaw at the Institute for Juvenile Research studying youth gangs. He associated himself with one of Chicago's most notorious mobs once led by Al Capone to understand the roots of crime.

He worked with labor organizers in an attempt to better the lives of those who lived in the slums near the stockyards. He formed the Industrial Areas Foundation an umbrella organization for activists. In the 1960s he was popular with young radicals of the New Left and wrote the book Rules for Radicals which emphasized revolutionary social change.

Hillary Clinton wrote a 92-paged thesis on Saul Alinsky when she was a 21-year-old college senior at Wellesley College titled: “THERE IS ONLY THE FIGHT...An Analysis of the Alinsky Model” The paper was kept hidden during the Clinton administration. Hillary Clinton as a teenager first met Alinsky on a field trip organized by a liberal Methodist church. As a senior at Wellesley she interview him for her thesis paper. In her paper Clinton idolized Alinsky and includes him with her other heros: Martin Luther King, Walt Whitman, and socialist Eugene Debs.

Barack Obama after finishing Columbia University went to Chicago and began to work in a organization Alinsky helped to start.

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