Newswise — TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Fifty years ago this week President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty in his 1964 State of the Union address. At that time, one in five Americans was poor.
While the situation is better today, millions of Americans still live in poverty. One of Florida State University’s nationally recognized experts is ready to answer media questions and provide analysis on how the efforts to end poverty in the U.S. have been stymied.
Jill Quadagno, professor of sociology in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University: (850) 644-8827; firstname.lastname@example.org
Quadagno is the author of several books on social policy including “The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty.” She teaches courses on political sociology and aging.
Several factors have contributed to the shortcomings of the war on poverty in this country, including trying to end poverty through job training programs. This tactic became enmeshed in conflict over racial discrimination, Quadagno said.
“The heart of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act was the effort to bring about social change through community action programs. Yet across the nation, community action programs became entangled in the civil rights movement, creating a backlash that was ultimately their undoing,” she said.
“Job training programs, too, began as an effort to provide the poor with the skills to earn a decent wage. In practice, however, young black women received training that would prepare them to be domestic servants and homemakers. Young black men gained valuable training in the skilled trades but came into conflict with the unions that wanted to maintain control over hiring.”
But key parts of the war on poverty, notably the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, have been critical for reducing poverty, she said.
“Until then, poor people and older people had no way of ensuring access to health care,” she said.
Quadagno holds the Mildred and Claude Pepper Eminent Scholar Chair in Social Gerontology at Florida State.