POVERTY: 50 Years of War

Straight Up! No Chaser!

POVERTY: 50 Years of War

Tonya Crew, JD


Lyndon B. Johnson officially announced the war on poverty fifty years ago.  Much like the “war on drugs”, it seems a declaration of war only made the problem worse.  Over the last fifty years, poverty in America has exploded.  Many economic factors play a role, but none more than the rising income disparity that has decimated the middle class. 

The current conditions of “the American poor,” are more reminiscent of third world poverty in the developing nations.  It is believed that poverty in America is better than poverty almost anywhere else, but try telling that to a single mother, Black or White, that can’t feed her children or maintain a stable residence for her family.  Look at the generational damage, poverty at this level, will do in the Black communities.  Poor schools in bad neighborhoods will fail generations of children and ruin any opportunity they may have had to break the cycle.  We know education is the key, but we are failing our children on this issue. 

Poor nutrition, a lack of resources, and the most detrimental effect, the lack of hope, not only shapes a community, but is the source of its oppression.  Before the mortgage crisis that signaled the economic ruin of the US middle class, when a family member fell upon hard times, there was almost always someone in the family who could offer assistance until that person could get back on their feet.  Not true any longer, there is a massive tear in the fiber of Black communities resulting from the desperate struggle to survive the current economy.  This last economic crisis, wiped out the greatest source of wealth held by many Americans, especially Blacks, who had finally started to participate in home ownership on an unprecedented scale.  These families spent generations fighting for home ownership and their place in the middle class – The American Dream realized: only to have it all wiped away by greedy bankers, Wall Street manipulators and shady insurance ploys. 

With the current economic state-higher unemployment, drastic cuts in social programs to help the poor, higher education funding cut backs and a growing gap between “the haves and the have-nots”, the economic future looks dire.  The lower middle class is one life occurrence from poverty: one lay-off, one medical emergency, one arrest.  One tragedy separates the lower middle class from the poor.  No savings and no upward mobility in an ever decreasing job market. What is the solution? 

Martin Luther King MARCH 2014


Better yet, who cares?  Do the poor in America have a voice to address their concerns?  Can they even afford a ticket to the party?  With Corporate America and the super-rich controlling the government, congress fighting to destroy the legacy of President Obama, and the people caught in the middle, what’s the likely outcome.  In addition, the Courts are now reflecting the ills of the government.  The wealthy are successfully buying their way out of the system and because of the intimate relationship Blacks have with the Justice system (civil and criminal), and the racially biased implementation of laws, it is abundantly clear who will continue to feed the prison industrial complex. 

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and the question has to be, without hope for a better future, who will remember the dream in ten years, or understand its meaning?  Are we facing an economic decline that will take another fifty years to overcome, if ever?

See the newly released documentary

Inequality for All- Dr. Robert Reich

former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration, takes us all to school and explains in clear terms what has happened to our economy.  

Knowledge is power, so power up!


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