Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Act was the centerpiece of LBJ’s War on Poverty and the fruit of the Civil Rights Movement. As President Johnson stated, it was created to “eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this nation by opening…To everyone…the opportunity for education, training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity.”
Programs created through this legislation were aimed at improving access to quality education, job training, and loans for small businesses to attack the roots of unemployment and poverty.
While we’ve come a long way since 1964, there is still much work to be done, as evidenced by the unfolding events in Ferguson where decades of disinvestment and racial tensions have come to a boil following the shooting of an unarmed African American teenager. A year ago, in recognition of two other important anniversaries, our CEO, Ben Hecht, shared his reflections on the progress we’ve made as a nation to increase access to opportunity for low-income people and people of color. He found that, though there are many reasons to feel heartened by overall improvements in educational attainment and economic opportunity, the evidence still points to a sobering, expanding, wealth gap along racial lines in this country. A year later, his words still ring true.
Read more from Ben here:
At Living Cities, we are committed to catalyzing and supporting enduring change to increase the economic well-being of low-income people. We must continue to wage war on poverty, and to dismantle the systems that continue to perpetuate inequitable outcomes for people of color.
In honor of today’s anniversary, we have compiled a number of articles that shed light on the state of inequality and the War on Poverty 50 years later.
We hope that you’ll read these and be encouraged to take action to disrupt inequality in America.