Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty has long been portrayed as the
most potent symbol of all that is wrong with big government.
Conservatives deride the War on Poverty for corruption and the
creation of "poverty pimps," and even liberals carefully distance
themselves from it. Examining the long War on Poverty from the
1960s onward, this book makes a controversial argument that the
programs were in many ways a success, reducing poverty rates and
weaving a social safety net that has proven as enduring as programs
that came out of the New Deal.
The War on Poverty also transformed American politics from the
grass roots up, mobilizing poor people across the nation. Blacks in
crumbling cities, rural whites in Appalachia, Cherokees in
Oklahoma, Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, migrant Mexican farmworkers,
and Chinese immigrants from New York to California built social
programs based on Johnson's vision of a greater, more just society.
Contributors to this volume chronicle these vibrant and largely
unknown histories while not shying away from the flaws and failings
of the movement-including inadequate funding, co-optation by local
political elites, and blindness to the reality that mothers and
their children made up most of the poor.
In the twenty-first century, when one in seven Americans
receives food stamps and community health centers are the largest
primary care system in the nation, the War on Poverty is as
relevant as ever. This book helps us to understand the turbulent
era out of which it emerged and why it remains so controversial to
Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology
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