50th Anniversary News

Over the next few months our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of two events that helped pave the road to opportunity for millions of Americans living in poverty. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, held on August 28, 1963, featured Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech calling for human, civil and economic rights for African Americans. Just a few months later, on January 8, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “War on Poverty” by introducing legislation that would expand the federal government’s role in poverty reduction efforts. This set in motion the creation of programs such as Head Start, food stamps (now SNAP), work study, Community Action Agencies, VISTA, Medicare and Medicaid.

Organizations nationwide are planning to commemorate these anniversaries with significant events, reports and other activities that explore the progress made for poor people over the last half century and the goals that lie ahead. Spotlight will track these developments, as well as media coverage related to the anniversaries, on an ongoing basis. To submit information about an event, report or other resource to this page, email Tamanna Mansury at Tamanna@thehatchergroup.com.

"War on Poverty" Resources

Resources

Upcoming Events

  • March 6, 2014: The Atlantic will host a forum to explore the current economic and social breakdown of the American population, how we got to this point, and what can be done to ensure that millions living below the poverty line or on the brink have the tools to achieve economic success. The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

  • March 11, 2014: The New America Foundation and the Center for American Progress will host a forum to explore the historic roots of the War on Poverty, how anti-poverty approaches have evolved over time, and the legacy\'s impact on contemporary policy debates, such as eligibility for public assistance, the role of assets, and the call for a higher minimum wage. The event will be held from 9:15-11:30 a.m. EDT at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

    The Atlantic will host a forum to explore the current economic and social breakdown of the American population, how we got to this point, and what can be done to ensure that millions living below the poverty line or on the brink have the tools to achieve economic success. Speakers include U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ); Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink; Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.); Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at The Brookings Institution; and Tavis Smiley, host of PBS’s Tavis Smiley. The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. - See more at: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/EventsCalendar.aspx#sthash.s0XGsJL1.dpuf
  • August 19-22, 2014: The Community Action Partnership will hold its annual convention to coincide with its 50th anniversary as part of the War on Poverty. Community Action Agencies—which help low income people and families in rural, urban, and suburban communities achieve economic stability—are nonprofit private and public organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The event will be held at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

  • January 9-10, 2014: The Center for Poverty Research at The University of California-Davis held a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Click here for more information.

  • January 13, 2014: The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality held a forum around the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. The Center will release its first annual Report Card on Poverty and Inequality, a report that will cover seven areas includeing education, health, labor markets, poverty, the safety net, income inequality, and wealth inequality. Authored by the country’s top experts, the report will provide key data at both the state and national levels on efforts or reduce inequality and equalize opportunity. The event will be held from 2-5 p.m. EST at Stanford University in Stanford, California. Click here for more information.
    The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality will host a forum around the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. The Center will release its first annual Report Card on Poverty and Inequality, a report that will cover seven areas includeing education, health, labor markets, poverty, the safety net, income inequality, and wealth inequality. Authored by the country’s top experts, the report will provide key data at both the state and national levels on efforts or reduce inequality and equalize opportunity. Speakers include Sarah Burgard, associate professor of sociology and epidemiology at the University of Michigan; Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation; Timothy Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty; and Christopher Wimer, research scientist at the Columbia Population Research Center. The event will be held from 2-5 p.m. EST at Stanford University in Stanford, California. - See more at: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/EventsCalendar.aspx#sthash.hh3fo71r.dpuf

  • On January 8, 2014, exactly 50 years after President Johnson declared a "War on Poverty," Spotlight, with support from the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Russell Sage Foundation, held a major forum offering diverse perspectives on the effects of anti-poverty policies in the U.S. over the past five decades and in the years to come. The event focused on research highlighted in a new book, "Legacies of the War on Poverty" (Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013), featuring a discussion among the book's editors and commentators from across the political spectrum.

    Exactly 50 years after President Johnson declared a "War on Poverty," Spotlight, with support from the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan\'s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Russell Sage Foundation, will host a forum offering diverse perspectives on the effects of anti-poverty policies in the U.S. over the past five decades and in the years to come. The event will focus on research highlighted in a new book, "Legacies of the War on Poverty" (Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013), featuring a discussion among the book\'s editors and commentators from across the political spectrum. The event will also be webcast live. For those attending in person or viewing the webcast, you can get the conversation going on Twitter prior to the event using the hashtag #TalkPoverty. - See more at: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/EventsCalendar.aspx#sthash.jIxH5kQZ.dpuf
  • July 31: The U.S. House Budget Committee held a "progress report" hearing on the "War on Poverty." Witnesses will include Eloise Anderson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families; Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy; and Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK LOBBY. The hearing was held at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Click here to view Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) opening statement. Click here to view the testimonies.

  • September 20: The University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison held a conference to examine
    will examine the many changes that have occurred over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's (formerly food stamps) history and their implications for today's program in light of proposed 2013 changes.

Announcements

  • In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty, the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law is calling for papers to be presented at its Spring 2014 Annual Law Review Symposium on new approaches to addressing poverty and its causes in contemporary American society. Symposium submissions will address how the law - judicial, statutory, or administrative - currently serves to facilitate or obstruct economic opportunity for all Americans and President Johnson's goal of overcoming "barriers to full participation in our society."  Papers will examine the extent to which the law currently affords Americans the opportunity to participate fully in American economic life as measured by the areas specifically targeted by the War on Poverty: education, employment, health care, housing, community development, and access to capital for small business and entrepreneurship. Please submit abstracts to UDC Law Review Symposium Editor John Kinney at lawreview@udc.edu no later than 11:59 p.m. EST, Monday, September 30, 2013.  To be eligible for consideration, submissions must not be published elsewhere.


March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Resources

From Spotlight

Upcoming & Past Events

  • October 10-11: The Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and the Black Labor Scholars Network will hold a day and a half long conference to explore the history of black workers and their organizing efforts; the current state and vision of black leadership within unions; innovative and cutting edge black led organizing going on across the country; and, a gender-based analysis of black organizing. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the Washington Post and a political analyst on MSNBC, will provide keynote remarks. The conference will be held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information.

  • August 16: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture held a forum to explore personal narratives of the March and discuss “post-racial” America and creating a new movement for racial equality. The event will be held at the Langston Hughes Auditorium in Harlem, New York City.

  • August 23: As part of its 57th annual convention, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in partnership with the SCLC Poverty Institute and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, held a national town hall meeting on poverty and economic empowerment. The panel on race and poverty will be held from 2-4 p.m. EDT at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

  • August 23-24: The National Urban League and the Memorial Foundation held several events to commemorate the March on Washington. On Friday, Aug. 23, they will hold the "Redeem the Dream" Summit and the "Drum Majors for Justice Future Leaders Celebration." On Saturday, Aug. 24, a commemorative march will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

  • August 27-28: The Center For the Study of Civil and Human Rights Laws held several events to commemorate the March on Washington. On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the organization will hold the "Conference on Civil Rights: Marching Forward by Looking Back." On Wednesday, August 28 (the actual day of the anniversary), people will march through Washington, D.C., which will culminate on the National Mall with a speech from President Obama.

  • On July 22, the Economic Policy Institute held a day-long symposium to examine the goals of  March and what we need to do moving forward on issues of race and economic equality. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) delivered the keynote speech. Click here to watch the video.

Resources 



 

The New Haven Register, July 17, 2014: (Op-Ed) Forum: LBJ’s Great Society legislation still protecting our most vulnerable

“Medicare and Medicaid, civil rights and voting rights, expanded college enrollment opportunities and a college work study program, Head Start, better air and water quality, food stamps and child nutrition programs, immigration law revision. All are part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legislative initiative, which started 50 years ago this month, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and enacted over the ensuing four years.”

The Allentown Morning Call, May 27, 2014: (Op-Ed) War on Poverty turned into a war on the poor

“It has become a commonplace in our mass media discourse that we have now completed 50 years of the War on Poverty that Lyndon Johnson famously declared in 1964.”

Forbes, May 22, 2014: (Op-Ed) The Great Society At 50; Yes, It Has Abolished Poverty

“Entirely contrary to what we’re usually told about it it has indeed succeeded, it has got as close as government work ever will to abolishing poverty. The problem is that we’re still using the wrong methods to measure that success. We are measuring the incomes of the poor, not their consumption possibilities, and we are also measuring those incomes without taking into account the things we do to raise those incomes.”

The Springfield Herald-Leader, May 20, 2014: (Op-Ed) LBJ's Great Society created today's societal angst

“Between 1959 and 1966 the percentage of Americans living in poverty plunged by about one-third, from 22.4 to 14.7, slightly lower than in 2012. But, Eberstadt cautions, the poverty rate is ‘incorrigibly misleading’ because government transfer payments have made income levels and consumption levels significantly different. Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, disability payments, heating assistance and other entitlements have, Eberstadt says, made income ‘a poor predictor of spending power for lower-income groups.’”

The New York Times, May 09, 2014: Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs

“Five decades after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the nation's poor are more likely to be found in suburbs like this one than in cities or rural areas, and poverty in suburbs is rising faster than in any other setting in the country.”

Huffington Post, May 06, 2014: The War on Poverty

“Over 50 years ago, on Jan. 8, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an all-out war on poverty. His idea consisted of a simple plan that was laid out in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964: to provide tax dollars to better the sociological needs of the poor. The money would be used to provide job training and focus community resources on stopping the cycle of poverty and its disastrous recurrence.”

The Auburn Citizen, May 03, 2014: Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty

“Over the last 50 years, community action agencies have participated in watershed efforts to help people achieve and sustain self-sufficiency, utilizing programs like Head Start, Medicaid and food stamps to lift people out of poverty. Throughout the month of May, we are planning and/or supporting a series of events to raise awareness about poverty and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s unconditional war on poverty.”

The Huffington Post, April 21, 2014: (Blog) Across Race, Generation: Pete Seeger and Ending Poverty

“The War on Poverty was a multi-tiered supported by the President Johnson administration to reduce the U.S. poverty rate, which at the time was 26 percent. Despite historic and current day efforts to discredit the War on Poverty, numerous studies hold its benefits and lift up the role of government accountable to its people in helping meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”

The Ventura County-Star, April 21, 2014: (Op-Ed) Terry Paulson: Hope, not learned helplessness

“Since President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, government has spent trillions, poverty remains, and more and more Americans are increasingly dependent on government support. Hope and opportunity have given way to learned helplessness.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 10, 2014: A new strategy needed to win the war on poverty

“Fifty years later, it can be written that the War on Poverty has underperformed against its founding vision. An estimated 46 million Americans currently live below the poverty line, while another 4.1 million job-seekers languish among the long-term unemployed. Wealth distribution continues to skew.”

The Buffalo News, April 08, 2014: GOP revisits poverty issue, citing small gains after 50 years

“Two years after their presidential nominee helped sink his own campaign with comments about the 47 percent of Americans ‘who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,’ Republicans are raising ideas that they think will help the 15 percent of Americans who are genuinely in poverty.”

The Durham News, March 28, 2014: Wilson: Foot soldiers will fail if they don’t address poverty’s root causes

“Next years marks the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, of which the War on Poverty was an integral – and still controversial – part.”

The New York Post, March 17, 2014: Bill de Blasio’s war for poverty

“This year, many on the left are celebrating 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty — an era that saw the creation of massive new government programs that liberals proclaimed would raise living standards for the poor. However, it’s a distinctly ironic anniversary.”

The Charleston Post Courier, January 31, 2014: (Editorial) Let states take charge of war on poverty

“Earlier this month, America marked an important milestone. Jan. 8 was the 50th anniversary of the declaration of war on poverty. This event has intensified an ongoing debate about the federal government's role in supporting society's least affluent members.”

The Washington Times, January 30, 2014: Report: Illinois poverty remains stubbornly high

“Illinois’ overall poverty rate is the same as it was a half-century ago despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people struggling to get by, according to a new report that examines how the state has fared since President Lyndon Johnson declared a national War on Poverty.”

The Mobile Register, January 28, 2014: (Op-Ed) War on Poverty continues to rage across Alabama

“There are those who say that this war has been lost – that the country has invested billions of dollars over the last 50 years and yet poverty continues.”

The Orlando Sentinel, January 24, 2013: (Op-Ed) Mixed results on LBJ's objectives: Front Burner

“Given recent debate about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, we could be forgiven for believing that battles against poverty long have taken center stage in American politics. Little could be further from the truth.”

The Orlando Sentinel, January 24, 2013: (Op-Ed) We lost will to fight, not War on Poverty: Front Burner

“When we hear claims that the War on Poverty failed, we should realize that we are dealing with political gamesmanship and not actual history. To see how this is so, let's consider a few important facts.”

The Orlando Sentinel, January 24, 2013: (Op-Ed) Mixed results on LBJ's objectives: Front Burner

“Given recent debate about the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, we could be forgiven for believing that battles against poverty long have taken center stage in American politics. Little could be further from the truth.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 24, 2014: (Op-Ed) Eliminating poverty starts with minimum wage boost

“At the beginning of the War on Poverty, 37 percent of our elderly were poor. Today the rate is 9 percent, a 76 percent decline.”

The Journal Tribune, January 22, 2014: (Editorial) Beating back wealth inequality won’t be easy (Subscription Required)

“Half a century ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty. That war would soon make a real difference. In the decade following its 1964 launch, our official poverty rate dropped from 19 to 11.2 percent.”

The News-Press, January 20, 2014: 'War on poverty' still being fought

“In the 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson famously declared a ‘war on poverty,’ a struggling St. Joseph mother of four believes poverty is still an overwhelming issue.”

The Salt Lake Tribune, January 20, 2014: Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ still a political battlefront

“The War on Poverty is, as much as ever, a hot political topic 50 years after President Lyndon B. Johnson launched an array of social programs aimed at eradicating destitution and its attendant ills.”

The Oshkosh Northwestern, January 17, 2014: (Op-ed) Honor Dr. King with a living wage

“As our nation celebrates Dr. King’s life, we would do well by his legacy to embrace his powerful vision of economic justice.”

The Deseret News, January 16, 2014: Why the U.S. lost the war on poverty

“When Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, an estimated 19 percent of Americans were classified as poor. Today, more than 50 years and 20 trillion dollars later, 15 percent of Americans live in poverty. On the left and right, there's agreement among some economists and policymakers that the war on poverty is a failure.”

If you have any suggestions to add to this resource page, contact info@spotlightonpoverty.org