After the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, President
Johnson expanded the policy ideas initiated in the Kennedy
Administration. In his message to Congress on Jan.8, 1964, President
Let us carry forward the plans and programs
of John Kennedy, not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are
right...This Administration today, here and now declares an unconditional War
on Poverty in America....Our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty,
pursue it wherever it exists. In city slums, in small towns, in sharecroppers'
shacks, or in migrant worker camps, on Indian reservations, among whites as
well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in
the depressed areas.
The "War on Poverty" was born. In Feb., Sargent Shriver was
asked to head a task force to draft legislation. In August, the Economic
Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) was passed, creating a federal Office of Economic
Opportunity (OSEO) placed in the President's Executive Office. "Sarge"
Shriver was named Director, serving until 1969.
Congress also passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, guaranteeing
equal opportunity for all. The Economic Opportunity Act, designed to
implement that guarantee in the economic sector, stated in part: "It is
therefore the policy of the U.S. to eliminate the paradox of poverty in the
midst of plenty in this nation by opening, to everyone, the opportunity for
education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in
decency and dignity."
The EOA included new education, employment and training, and
work-experience programs such as the Job Corps, the Neighborhood Youth Corps,
and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA, the "domestic Peace Corps").
Congress bypassed the state and local governments and provided for direct
funding of community groups: the community action concept.
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