Government Policy and the Poor

Gerald Jaynes

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Government Policy and the Poor

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In the midst of black urbanization and the explosion in welfare dependency during the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy was making plans to launch a “drive against poverty.” After Kennedy's assassination in 1963 his successor, Lyndon Johnson when informed of the plans exclaimed “that's my kind of program,” and the federal government launched a “war on poverty” during 1964. However, liberal Democrats disagreed what policy approach would best eliminate poverty. The mainstays of the civil rights coalition, African American civil rights organizations and national labor unions, strongly favored programs aimed at creating national full-employment and guaranteed jobs for the poor. Thus, in 1964, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO through a memo from their President George Meany advised LBJ that the best means of waging war on poverty was through “full employment” and “public works” projects employing low-income workers at wages adequate to support families.

Keywords: black urbanization; government policy; welfare dependency; African American civil rights; poverty; labor unions

Article.  5223 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics

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