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1 Burnside American Studies- Poverty

This title in other editions

The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980


The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980 Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Lyndon Johnsonandrsquo;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 andldquo;poverty pimps,andrdquo; 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 Johnsonandrsquo;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 movementandmdash;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 this day.

Book News Annotation:

President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty has been judged unsuccessful in the past, but the essays collected here look at the successes of Johnson's program and examine its impact on the growth of American grassroots politics. Contributors in history, American studies, and African American studies assess the victories and failings of the grassroots movements of the era, within the confines of political corruption and the sometimes violent repression that anti-poverty activists encountered. Some areas explored include community action in 1960s Baltimore, Tejanos and the War on Poverty in Milwaukee, southern women's interracial alliances, and the War on Poverty's links to the Civil Rights Movement and southern politics. The final section of the book examines the legacy of the War on Poverty for today. B&w historical photos are included. Orleck teaches history at Dartmouth College. Hazirjian is an activist Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

"Makes an extremely significant intervention into several literatures—on social movements, on domestic policy, and on local government and power structures. It shares both a strong point of view and a clear commitment not to oversimplify or romanticize the grassroots activism it depicts, and this combination makes it convincing and, at times, gripping. The fact that the book treats civil rights activism among Mexican Americans, Indians, and Asian Americans is particularly attractive."—Linda Gordon, winner of the Bancroft Prize for Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits

"The essays in this exciting collection bring to life the War on Poverty at the grassroots, where it was really fought. They emphasize the interpenetration of the poverty war and civil rights movement and highlight the energy unleashed by the commitment to the 'maximum feasible participation' of the poor. Annelise Orleck’s introduction provides one of the best overviews of the War on Poverty ever written, and her stunning conclusion offers a measured, reasoned defense of the program’s achievements and legacy--a message needed now more than ever."—Michael B. Katz, University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents


Annelise Orleck

Introduction: The War on Poverty from the Grass Roots Up

Part I. Battles over Community Action

Guian A. McKee

andquot;This Government Is with Usandquot;: Lyndon Johnson and the Grassroots War on Poverty

Rhonda Y. Williams

andquot;To Challenge the Status Quo by Any Meansandquot;: Community Action and Representational Politics in 1960s Baltimore

Wesley G. Phelps

Ideological Diversity and the Implementation of the War on Poverty in Houston

Marc S. Rodriguez

Defining the Space of Participation in a Northern City: Tejanos and the War on Poverty in Milwaukee

Part II. Poor Mothers and the War on Poverty

Laurie B. Green

Saving Babies in Memphis: The Politics of Race, Health, and Hunger during the War on Poverty

Christina Greene

andquot;Someday . . . the Colored and White Will Stand Togetherandquot;: The War on Poverty, Black Power Politics, and Southern Women's Interracial Alliances

Adina Back

andquot;Parent Powerandquot;: Evelina Landoacute;pez Antonetty, the United Bronx Parents, and the War on Poverty

Robert Bauman

Gender, Civil Rights Activism, and the War on Poverty in Los Angeles

Part III. The War on Poverty, the Civil Rights Movement, and Southern Politics

Kent B. Germany

Poverty Wars in the Louisiana Delta: White Resistance, Black Power, and the Poorest Place in America

Greta de Jong

Plantation Politics: The Tufts-Delta Health Center and Intraracial Class Conflict in Mississippi, 1965-1972

Amy Jordan

Fighting for the Child Development Group of Mississippi: Poor People, Local Politics, and the Complicated Legacy of Head Start

Susan Youngblood Ashmore

Going Back to Selma: Organizing for Change in Dallas County after the March to Montgomery

William Clayson

The War on Poverty and the Chicano Movement in Texas: Confronting andquot;Tio Tomandaacute;sandquot; and the andquot;Gringo Pseudoliberalsandquot;

Part IV. What Do They Really Mean by Community Development?

Thomas Kiffmeyer

Looking Back to the City in the Hills: The Council of the Southern Mountains and a Longer View of the War on Poverty in the Appalachian South, 1913-1970

Daniel M. Cobb

The War on Poverty in Mississippi and Oklahoma: Beyond Black and White

Karen M. Tani

The House That andquot;Equalityandquot; Built: The Asian American Movement and the Legacy of Community Action

Annelise Orleck

Conclusion: The War on the War on Poverty and American Politics since the 1960s



Product Details

Orleck, Annelise
University of Georgia Press
Hazirjian, Lisa Gayle
United States - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
13 b&w photos, 1 map
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » Poverty
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Children and Family
History and Social Science » Sociology » Poverty
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General

The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980 New Trade Paper
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