As I mentioned in my last blog, I looked at how Lyndon Johnson planned to alleviate poverty and the related racial discrimination through his programs. Soon into his presidency, he created the Office of Economic Opportunity and under it, the Economic Opportunity Act was created in 1964 and contained different government funded programs to combat domestic poverty. Although he had other initiatives such as Head Start, and the Job Corps, I wanted to look more into the economic side of his thinking.
Lyndon Johnson giving his State of the Union address; 1964
Economic Opportunity Act:
The Economic Opportunity Act was passed in 1964 and would pave the way for the rest of the decade. Funding was given to each state with no specific regulations about how they were to spend their money which was to attack the root of the problem, local poverty. Different areas had differing economic needs, for example inner cities would need more funding than suburban areas. The equitable funding would allow for customized programs based on the needs of the area. This would allow the federal government to focus on the widely spread segregation in the US. Poverty was decreased during this time.
The Act gave birth to almost a dozen programs to help with poverty. A focus was on education and volunteer programs. Johnson had emphasized that education was at the core of aiding poverty, so the Economic Opportunity Act initiated programs to provide further education in low income neighborhoods, and even a program which would educate adults whose illiteracy hindered their ability to find jobs.
Did it work?
There are very differing opinions on whether the Economic Opportunity Act, or even the War on Poverty worked. Although billions of dollars were put into the EOA, there was no significant change in poverty. On the other side, some of the programs it created would have lasting effects on the US and are still in progress today. It is true that poverty has declined since 1964, and some of that can be attributed to Johnson. One of the reasons the War on Poverty does not have a long lasting legacy is because of the Vietnam War. With the US involving itself into the War despite much criticism, many people focused on the negatives of what Johnson was doing, instead of his anti-poverty initiatives. His legacy has been the Vietnam War, as opposed to what he did to aid the US.
Demonstration of Learning Starting Point:
As of a few weeks ago, I have a plan for my Demonstration of Learning. I am going to create a small exhibit in the school library using the ends of the bookshelves to have posters displaying the research I have accumulated over this semester. I am in the process of figuring out what information I will put on each poster and the aesthetics of it. I will wait until I have all the pieces I need for the “pre-RFK” Lyndon Johnson era, and then move to Kennedy’s ideology, before I can fully map out the plan. I will be working closely with the librarians to figure out what it will look like, and will hopefully have another update soon.
Bailey, Martha J., and Duquette, Nicolas J. “How Johnson Fought the War on Poverty: The Economics and Politics of Funding at the Office of Economic Opportunity.” The Journal of Economic History, vol. 74, no. 2, 2014, pp.351-388. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1524968046?accountid=5746, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022050714000291.
Davies, Gareth. “War on Dependency: Liberal Individualism and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.” Journal of American Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, 1992, pp. 205–231. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27555646.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. “The Divided Legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson.” The Atlantic, 7 Sept. 2018, http://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/the-complicated-legacy-of-lyndon-johnson/569068/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.
Muncy, Robyn. “Great Society.” American Governance, edited by Stephen Schechter, et al., vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2016, pp. 362-366. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3629100311/GVRL?u=west66701&sid=GVRL&xid=1913d588. Accessed 26 Oct. 2018.
Ushistory.org. “Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society.'” US History, 2018, http://www.ushistory.org/us/56e.asp. Accessed 30 Oct. 2018.
Uncredited. LBJ State Of The Union. Edited by XMB, Dec. 2012. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=apg&AN=595487ff19d4485cac3740000c33cf6c&site=ehost-live.