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Bertha Lewis
Bertha Lewis is the CEO and Chief Organizer of ACORN, the largest community organization in the country. Since her appointment to this position in October, Ms. Lewis has worked diligently with the National Association Board and ACORN staff to manage the operations of the 500,000-family-strong membership, which is active in over 110 cities across the country.

Ms. Lewis came to this position through her sixteen years of work with ACORN, during which NY ACORN grew in membership from 10,000 to over 180,000 members. For the past five years, Ms. Lewis has been the Executive Director of New York ACORN, while also being deeply involved in ACORN’s national development and campaigns. She is also one of the Co-Chairs of the Working Families Party, founded in 1998 to help low -income and working people educate themselves politically, and have an active voice in legislation and political policies that affect their daily lives.

Ms. Lewis, a native of Philadelphia, came to New York as a theater producer and became a housing and education activist. Ms. Lewis became involved in housing issues through a housing problem of her own in the South Bronx. In a protracted battle with the City of New York and a notorious landlord, Ms. Lewis became a tenant and housing rights leader, and in 1988 went to work for the Banana Kelly Community Organization as a tenant and community organizer.

In 1992, Ms. Lewis became Director of ACORN's Loan Counseling Program, and helped to negotiate landmark agreements with major banks under the Community Reinvestment Act. The mortgage and budget counseling program helped put hundreds of low-income New Yorkers into their first homes.

Ms. Lewis became the Head Organizer for ACORN in Brooklyn in 1995, a period in which she ran campaigns to improve local neighborhoods, housing, tenant rights, predatory lending, and education, school reform, fair wages and immigration.

During her tenure with New York ACORN, Ms. Lewis has overseen New York ACORN’s participation in numerous national campaigns that benefit the living conditions of low-to-moderate income Americans. Ms. Lewis has been at the forefront of ACORN’s campaigns to fight for foreclosure moratoriums, and to fight against predatory and sub-prime lending. In New York that work with ACORN members and New Yorkers for Responsible Lending achieved passage of local and statewide anti-predatory lending legislation. She has also led campaigns to fight for inclusionary zoning for low-income families in developments which receive tax breaks, and ran a landmark campaign to save 6,000 units of affordable housing at Starrett City from being sold for luxury housing.

On the education front, Ms. Lewis led the fight for parent access to school choice with ACORN’s Secret Apartheid Studies; she helped defeat the Edison Corporation in its bid to privatize public schools; and helped create three community High Schools in collaboration with the Board of Education. On wage and labor issues, Ms. Lewis was instrumental in winning the right for 28,000 Home Childcare Providers in New York City to unionize, and helped to form a city wide coalition of labor, religious, community and political groups that passed a Living Wage law in City Council, covering over 50,000 New Yorkers.

Ms. Lewis is one of 10 national recipients of the 2004 Citizen Activist Award of the Gleitsman Foundation for her work in public education reform. Ms. Lewis received the 2005 New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. Leon Bogues award for community and political activism. Ms Lewis was named by Crain’s magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York 2007, and one of the “ Influentials” in politics by New York magazine 2006.

Entries by Bertha Lewis

City Council Must Not Undermine Minority Opportunities

(3) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 1:22 PM

A new City Council proposal meant to solidify organized labor's role in local development projects will effectively bar minority- and women-owned businesses from competing for contracts and create new barriers to employment for many residents. The Council must reject this flawed bill out of hand or overhaul it completely.

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The Price of Retribution

(8) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 7:31 PM

On top of all the other economic hurdles and social barriers that stand in the way of success, young people of color also have to worry that a trivial mistake might send them to prison for the rest of their life. New York is the only state other than North...

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Human Dignity at the Heart of Immigration Reform

(46) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 6:57 PM

The government may have "shutdown" on Tuesday morning, but the fight for immigration reform still burns brightly and must remain at the center of the national discourse. On Oct. 5, the fight will be brought to the doorstep of Congress and all throughout the nation with the "March for Immigrant...

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Sound the Alarm -- It's Been a 50-Year Dream

(14) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 12:09 PM

Today, we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the words, "I Have a Dream," that embodied not just the hope of a race, but of a nation. He had a vision, a hope, an ambition, that one...

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King's Dream Is Also an Immigrant Dream

(134) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 2:55 PM

Co-authored by Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ

On August 28, 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and hundreds of thousands of activists, citizens, union members and leaders descended on Washington to reclaim the American Dream. What followed? The Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and a long...

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Stephen Colbert in Death Match with Black Barbie

(11) Comments | Posted July 21, 2009 | 9:08 PM


A few weeks ago, Stephen Colbert had me on his show. He was trying to get me to confess the numerous ways that ACORN is working to undermine the principles of capitalism. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now, you know I'd love to...

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Sick and Tired's Turn to Stand and Fight

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2009 | 7:26 PM

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

How many times have you said or thought that? Plenty, I'll bet. If you are like ACORN member Tamecka Pierce from Florida who suffers from lupus and serious gaps in her health care coverage, it's a regular thing.


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Stopping the 13 Second Clock: ACORN and Leading Mayors Join Together in Fighting Foreclosures

(5) Comments | Posted June 12, 2009 | 8:33 PM

Yesterday I was honored to be on a call with America's leading mayors and the US Conference of Mayors to talk about a huge problem affecting cities from coast to coast: the foreclosure crisis.

I've been talking about how a family is losing their home every...

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"Lupus Isn't the Only Thing Eating Me Up About Health Care"

(5) Comments | Posted May 20, 2009 | 9:39 PM

When Florida ACORN member Tamecka Pierce first got her employer-provided health insurance, she was ecstatic. No more dealing with the limitations and bureaucracy of the Medicaid system, which had been her sole option as an unemployed single mother with three children.

That joy was short lived. Just after she...

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A 21st Century Civil Rights Movement

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2009 | 5:04 PM

Today, Friday May 1, 2009, thousands of people across this magnificent and gorgeous country of ours are taking to the streets to rally for comprehensive changes to our immigration policies - changes that promote family unity, promote public health and safety, and end the police-state approach to patrolling communities of...

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Stopping the Every-13-Second Foreclosure Clock

(16) Comments | Posted April 29, 2009 | 11:21 PM

In America, a family is losing its home every 13 seconds.

This appalling statistic brings home the punishment working families are taking from the foreclosure crisis, a crisis acting like a cancer on the economic recovery. We at ACORN applauded President Obama's "Making Home Affordable" plan...

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Lies and the Lying Liars Exposed

(30) Comments | Posted April 8, 2009 | 9:31 PM

Yesterday Media Matter for America released a well-researched report showing that conservatives have repeatedly resorted to blaming ACORN in place of substantive discussions of causes and solutions, even where the organization has little or nothing to do with the issue.

For us at ACORN, the findings in...

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21st Century Bull Connor: Shameless Intransigence

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2009 | 11:47 PM

This is from the "Have They No Shame?" department. For the past couple of months I've been talking about the abuses going on in Maricopa County, Arizona (that's where the fine city of Phoenix is located) at the hands of the local sheriff there, Joe Arpaio.


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Thank You Jon Stewart

(44) Comments | Posted March 13, 2009 | 8:49 PM

I'm sure that many of you reading this have been reveling in Jon Stewart's take-down of banks, speculators, and financial commentators this week on The Daily Show. I have too. I think my favorite part was from last night's floor-wiping spectacular with Jim Cramer.

"Listen, you knew what the...

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The Future Starts Now: President Obama's First Budget

(3) Comments | Posted March 11, 2009 | 4:58 PM

Someone once told me that budgets are moral documents. I think they said that while I was trying to balance my checkbook and the only thing that came to mind was distinctly immoral. But, of course, they didn't mean it that way. Or rather, they didn't mean it related to...

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We Are Willing To Go To Any Means Necessary

(23) Comments | Posted February 20, 2009 | 7:28 PM

On Wednesday I wrote a piece on Huffington Post and another at Open Left talking about the centrality of fixing the foreclosure crisis to any recovery from the economic meltdown. Since the toxic assets at the center of the meltdown are based on mortgages that are entering...

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Time To Put Main Street Over Wall Street -- Obama's Foreclosure Proposal

(4) Comments | Posted February 17, 2009 | 10:18 PM

The clock is ticking.

The clock is ticking for millions of American families facing foreclosure proceedings. In 2008, 2.3 million families entered the foreclosure process.

And, in the time it took you to read this far, it happened to another family. Every 13 seconds a family in the...

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21st Century Bull Connor Closer to Feeling Fire Hose Turned on Him

(18) Comments | Posted February 13, 2009 | 9:55 PM

Just over a week ago, I told you about the latest affront to human dignity carried out by the 21st century's answer to Bull Connor. At the beginning of February, a month in which we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided to...

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Taking Action, Saving Homes, Starting the Recovery

(25) Comments | Posted February 10, 2009 | 5:29 PM

"No homes for sale!"

"No homes for sale!"

"No homes for sale!"

It took me about 7 seconds to say that chant three times. Six seconds later another family in America entered the foreclosure process.

ACORN members know what that does to a family and to a community....

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Sheriff Arpaio - The Bull Connor of the 21st Century

(4) Comments | Posted February 5, 2009 | 9:16 PM

Friends, there are some things that cannot go unchallenged. They are affronts to human dignity and to what it means to live in America.

Yesterday one of those things happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, the mega-county that contains Phoenix. In a move that smacks of the treatment of...

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