Food for Thought: War on Poverty

President Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
President Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happens this year. Signed July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the act outlawed ingrained forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, as well as women. It also ended strict and biased voter registration requirements and public segregation in schools, at the workplace, and general public facilities like pools and libraries.

2014 is also the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, which President Lyndon Johnson announced in his January 1964 state of the union address, before embarking on a tour of Appalachia to promote the legislation. Out of the “Great Society” came domestic programs like Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), Head Start, and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). These programs are tied into civil rights in that they sought to fight poverty and racial injustice, but they are possibly less remembered and recognized as such.

This series will explore this landmark act and the events leading up to it in photographs taken throughout the South during this monumental time. For more background, read¬†The New York Times¬†retrospective on “50 Years Into the War on Poverty” from April, 2014.