Throughout the history of the welfare rights movement, grassroots women activists, who were the heart and soul of the movement, articulated political positions that refl ected their multiple identities as women, poor people, mothers, community members, tenants, and people of various colors. Because of growing internal confl icts within NWRO, as well as their own experiences as poor women, during the late 1960s these women developed a more coherent political philosophy. Although racial identity was important for welfare rights activists, as the question of race began to fracture the movement, women activists reasserted their commitment to an interracial alliance based on common concerns about motherhood. They resisted attempts by middle-class staff members to control their movement and more frequently began to identify as proponents of women’s liberation and Black Power and fought for greater autonomy for poor women. Their campaign for autonomy included the right to choose whether to take paid employment or stay home with their children and whether or not to have an intimate relationship. For some women in the welfare rights movement these ideas formed the basis of a radical black feminist politics that was rooted in their day-to-day experiences as welfare recipients. Their philosophy emerged slowly and haltingly within the welfare rights movement. It was nurtured by ongoing differences with staff members and by the women’s own political evolution. Refl ecting on both the organizational development as well as the women’s intellectual positions helps us understand how they came to embrace a distinctive black feminism that spoke to the needs of poor women on welfare.