The War on Poverty, Then and Now: The 50-Year Fight

A SparkAction Synthesis
January 9, 2014

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s call for a “War on Poverty” in his 1964 State of the Union address, organizations across the country are publishing op-eds, polls, research and ways to take action to address issues relating to unemployment benefits, further cuts to nutrition assitance and minimum wage.

Half in Ten released a report and public poll about the state of poverty in the United States over the past half a century, along with state-specific data and communications tools.Get all the great resources here, and check out the highlights below.

  • The War on Poverty: Then and Now
    Applying Lessons Learned to the Challenges and Opportunities Facing a 21st-Century America
    Soon after President Johnson declared his commitment to end poverty, Congress passed the bipartisan Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and critical civil rights legislation. Throughout the Johnson and Nixon administrations, the War on Poverty laid the foundation for our modern-day safety net, including SNAP, formerly known as food stamps; Medicare; Medicaid; Head Start; and expanded Social Security, which remain crucial to supporting poor families today.

Read the report >>

  • POLL: 50 Years After LBJ’s War on Poverty
    A Study of American Attitudes About Work, Economic Opportunity, and the Social Safety Net
    This report examines the results of a brand new poll of more than 2,000 American adults, including significant oversamples of Millenials, African Americans, and Latinos, to assess their understandings and attitudes about poverty and what our nation needs to do to reduce it. Findings include: Americans strongly believe that poverty is primarily the result of a failed economy rather than the result of personal decisions and lack of effort, and the public is clear about its priorities for reducing poverty: jobs, wages, and education.

Browse the poll >>

  • Our American Story: A Storybank
    Our American Story is a community of low-income families, service providers, and other community leaders working to expand economic opportunity for all through the power of their personal stories. Submissions are shared as part of advocacy efforts to protect human needs programs and lay the groundwork for proactive policy helping vulnerable families. 

Submit here >>


First Focus

  • War on Poverty Made Strides for Children, But We Can Do Better
    "While many investments established by the War on Poverty have been significant in improving the well-being of low-income individuals and families, recent years have seen a dramatic increase in child poverty – culminating in a twenty-year high of 22 percent in 2010. For decades children have seen higher rates of poverty than any other age group in America."


Child Trends

  • War on Poverty
    In honor of the anniversary, Child Trends collected their most pertinent publications dealing with issues of child poverty here, and indicators.



BLOG Still “Other,” Still Invisible: American Poverty Fifty Years On
by Alison Waldman, SparkAction