50th anniversary of War on Poverty

War on poverty vs. war against the poor — who's winning?

By Ieshia Haynie

Following his acceptance of the U.S. presidency in 1963, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered his first State of the Union Address on Jan. 8, 1964. The speech came during a time when the United States held a poverty rate of nearly 19 percent, it was with this startling backdrop that President Johnson set forth a legislative agenda with an eye towards appropriating federal funds that targeted reducing poverty. This new legislation would target education, health care, civil rights, tax reduction, attention to senior citizens, food stamps, the program currently known as SNAP, community revitalization and transportation are several of the areas LBJ noted needed immediate attention and intervention. The immediate impact of the Economic Opportunity Act, established in 1964, resulted in poverty rates (PDF, 1.06MB) dropping across the US. 

Today, the poverty creek continues to rise. Those poverty reducing strategies implored in the 60’s, like the food stamp program, are facing possible extinction. 

Stayed tuned for our 2014 coverage, as we explore the victims in this long battle.