In 1907, rent on New York City's Lower East Side rose by a third. Poor tenants, who had it hard to begin with, couldn't afford the increase. So they went on strike.
Led by 20-year-old Pauline Newman, the so-called "East Side Joan of Arc", thousands of tenants simply stopped paying rent. Landlords and police couldn't do anything because of sheer numbers. Even though they could evict some, those that they did were sheltered, often in the same building. This went on for a while, and did result in some reduced rents, before New York City enacted rent control a decade later. (Down the line, that led to numerous arguments, waiting out relatives' death, courtroom battles, and one "Seinfeld" episode, but that's a whole other story.)
Today, as gentrification is spreading through American cities, the poor are finding themselves in a similar situation than their forefathers did a century ago. Yuppies and hipsters are pushing out the working classes, rents are hiked to the point of inaffordability, even in places where rent control is supposedly in effect...
During Newman's life, she had lent her contributions to numerous causes, from women's suffrage to labor organizing to stopping police brutality.
Perhaps America needs another Pauline Newman.