The War on Poverty, the protests against the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement were all parts of an awakening of the forces of social justice in the 1960s. This was an era of great prosperity in the United States, with the American dream being in reach of many, and the number of Americans enrolled in and completing higher education having skyrocketed, in part due to the GI Bill. However, this prosperity was distributed unequally, and many people sought to remedy these inequities.
World War II and the Vietnam War had meant that soldiers of all races and social classes served together as brothers and sisters in arms, something that made the unfairness of racial discrimination all the more apparent. Many of the protests against the war were grounded in an awareness that people under twenty-one (who could not vote at that time) and black people were dying in disproportionate numbers and yet had little say in the choice to go to war.
The War on Poverty brought into focus the disparity in poverty between ethnic minorities and whites. As a legacy of the Civil War and the failure of Reconstruction to address economic inequality, African Americans had lower incomes, education, net worth, and opportunities than white people. Thus, solving issues of poverty required addressing racial inequality, and civil rights required addressing economic inequality.