What was the War on Poverty?
The War on Poverty was a part of President Lyndon Johnson’s domestic policy in the mid-1960s. Johnson hoped to make his mark on the United States by radically decreasing the amount of poverty in the country.
The idea for the War on Poverty came partly from Michael Harrington’s book The Other America, published in 1962. This book exposed the amount of poverty that still existed even as the US economy was booming. President Kennedy read the book and wanted to take action. After Kennedy died, Johnson announced (in his State of the Union speech two months after he took office) that he wanted to declare war on poverty in accordance with Kennedy’s wishes.
The War on Poverty consisted of a number of programs. It had things like Head Start for poor children to improve their life chances, more aid to poor students who wanted to attend college, job training programs and the VISTA program, which was something like a domestic Peace Corps.
The War on Poverty, then, was one of the important liberal attempts to end poverty during the 1960s.