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ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)

ACORN is a grassroots political organization that grew out of George Wiley's National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), whose members in the late 1960s and early 70s invaded welfare offices across the U.S. -- often violently -- bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. ACORN's mandate today includes all issues touching low-income and working-class people. The organization runs schools where children are trained in class consciousness; it oversees a network of "boot camps" where street activists are trained; and it conducts operations that extort contributions from banks and other businesses under threat of trumped-up civil rights charges. In the 2004 and 2006 election cycles, ACORN and its sister group Project Vote ran nationwide voter mobilization drives that were marred by allegations of fraudulent voter registration, vote-rigging, voter intimidation, and vote-for-pay scams.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Obama worked with ACORN and Project Vote. In 1995 Obama sued, on behalf of ACORN, for the implementation of the Motor Voter law in Illinois. (Jim Edgar, the Republican Governor of Illinois, opposed the law because he believed that allowing voters to register using only a postcard would breed widespread fraud.) ACORN later invited Obama to help train its staff. Moreover, Obama eventually would sit on the Board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which gave a number of sizable grants to ACORN. In April 2007 The Nation reported, “Today Obama continues his organizing work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons on the south side [of Chicago].”

To view a comprehensive profile and numerous supplemental resources about ACORN, click here.

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