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Ai-jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo, (b 1974-)

Domestic Advocate/Labor Organizer

Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Ai-jen Poo.

PooDomestic workers have been historically been employed by upper middle class or affluent families to perform household and childcare duties. Historically, for many African American women, domestic work has largely been experienced as menial and inferior. It is reported by the Association of Black Women Historians that during the 1960s, nearly 90 percent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes. Domestic workers were the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement, as they were the catalyst for the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  

Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, has been organizing immigrant women domestic workers since 1996. NDWA is America’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States.  

Ms. Poo is the daughter of pro-democracy immigrants from Chiang Kai-shek's Taiwan. Her father was a scientist and one-time political activist from whom she inherited her passion for justice. She began her work as a labor organizer while a student at Columbia University. Outraged by stories of low pay and abuse at the hands of employers, Ms. Poo began organizing maids, nannies, and other domestic workers. Her organization is powered by 35 local, membership-based affiliate organizations representing over 10,000 nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for the elderly located in 19 cities and 11 states around the country.

Among Ms. Poo’s numerous accolades are the Ms. Foundation Woman of Vision Award, the Independent Sector American Express NGen Leadership Award, Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women list, and TIME’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Photo:  http://www.domesticworkers.org/sites/default/files/images/Ai-jen_HeadShot_2_LoRes.jpg (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.domesticworkers.org/aijen-poo#long (Accessed 1/24/14)
Burnham, Linda & Theodore, Nik, Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work, National Alliance of Domestic Workers, New York 2012, P 41.
http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2112169,00.html (Accessed 1/24/14)
http://www.abwh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2%3Aopen-statement-the-help (Accessed 1/24/14)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

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