Season 1 | Episode 2
May 11, 2016

White gloves, aluminum cans and plasma

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Meet the mothers who've relied on welfare through the decades.

Perhaps more than any other group, women on welfare have been stigmatized. In this episode, we introduce you to two women who’ve relied on welfare through the years: Ruby Duncan, an 83-year-old welfare rights activist in Las Vegas, and Josephine Moore, a 59-year-old mother of six in Kermit, West Virginia.

Duncan grew up picking cotton in rural Louisiana. As a young woman, she moved to Las Vegas where she worked as a maid in hotels and a cook in casinos. After an accident left her with severe spine damage, Duncan sometimes relied on welfare to support her seven children. The racial discrimination she experienced in the 1960s and ’70s led her to become a prominent welfare rights activist.

We first met Josephine Moore almost 20 years ago when Marketplace followed her transition from welfare to work. That was right after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (aka welfare reform) passed in 1996. So two decades later, we drop in on Moore where she lives, in a tiny coal-mining town, to see how life after welfare reform has been for her family.

Welcome back to “The Uncertain Hour,” the Wealth & Poverty desk’s new podcast hosted by Senior Correspondent Krissy Clark.

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