Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a formal declaration to end poverty in America. The announcement came during his State of the Union address, and sought out to tackle to roots and consequences of being poor in the U.S.
While some credit Johnson’s war on poverty as a success, many feel that work still needs to be done.
Arguing either point, though, seems immaterial with the official poverty rate at about 16 percent of the total population — 27 percent for Black and Hispanic individuals. Additionally, 1.3 million laid-off workers have been without jobs for more than six months, with nearly 2 million more quickly approaching that mark. This is a battle we should still be vigorously fighting.
Too many Americans suffer from enduring and increasing precarity, with compounding impacts on communities of color. In addition to the prolonged unemployment crisis, many who actually do have jobs are not paid enough; migrant and refugee workers can claim few protections; and food assistance benefits hang in the balance.
The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was a key component of Johnson’s agenda. The act cleared the path for many federally supported programs that still exist today such as Medicaid, Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Job Corps.
This year, Congress is expected to address the farm bill, immigration reform and unemployment.
Thoughts on the war on poverty?
Are we in a better position than we were 50 years ago?
Sound off below!