Saul Alinsky

Mobilizing Communities for Change

Saul AlinskySaul Alinsky was one of the leading community organizers in the United States and is noted for his most famous work, Rules for Radicals. In the 1930s, Alinsky organized the Back of the Yards neighbourhood in Chicago (made infamous by Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle). He went on to found the Industrial Areas Foundation while organizing the Woodlawn neighborhood, which trained organizers and assisted in the founding of community organizations around the country. By the 1950s, Alinsky’s main focus was organizing African-American communities. He brought modern civil rights efforts to Chicago and helped the black community of Rochester, New York challenge the mighty Eastman Kodak’s hiring policies. Alinsky published his third book, Rules for Radicals, A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, in 1971, which gained an influence well beyond Alinsky's typical constituency and is one of the key references for community organizers today. In the opening paragraph of Rules for Radicals, Alinsky writes: "What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."