In 1964 as an integral part of the civil rights movement, we Americans, under the leadership of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared war on poverty and gave birth to the Great Society movement. Many in Congress did not support these ideals; most of the antagonists were the same regional politicians that opposed civil rights. Regardless a new era of American freedom was born by declaring all Americans are equal and none should be denied the basics of life, a fair opportunity and respect. In 1964, while many such as I were serving our country and fighting for other peoples freedom in Vietnam, we still found the fortitude to create and pass several acts to engage in the war on poverty.
Civil rights is not a purely a minority ethnic issue; it was for all of us who were not born with a silver spoon in our mouth. The poverty of the Appalachians, the coal country of West Virginia, was known and written about, but poverty existed and still exists today in our cities and in rural America consisting of all races and religions. It is worth noting that the new demographic is not race or religion specific but those of multiple ethnic and national origins. Those who are compelled to pick a race or mark other rather than check all that apply on job applications or federal forms. This too is limiting our progress.
The following acts changed the world for many of us and we began to believe we were part of the American dream. These are not entitlements these are rights most of which have been enacted into law and into our Constitution.
o Civil Rights Act (1964): As important as this act was and is today, it has no teeth without the other acts such as:
o The Economic Opportunity Act (1964): Provided the basis for the
o Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO)
o Job Corps
o Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)
o Head Start
o Legal Services
o Neighborhood Youth Corps
o Community Action Program (CAP)
o College Work-Study program
o Neighborhood Development Centers
o Small Business loan programs
o Rural programs
o Migrant worker programs
o Remedial education projects
o Local health care centers, and others
o Food Stamp Act (1964)
o Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965)
o Higher Education Act (1965)
o Social Security amendments creating:
o Medicare/Medicaid (1965)
o The Department of Housing and Urban Development (1965),
o The Voting Rights Act (1965), the Model Cities Act (1966),
o The Fair Housing Act (1968)
o Veterans Preference Act (1944)
o Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
We would be remiss not to give credit to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy for the precursor legislative Acts that laid the ground work for the historic acts of 1964.
o Social Security Act 1935
o Benefits to cover the risks of old age, death, dependency of children, disability and blindness
o Medical care for the aged (added in 1965)
o Unemployment benefits.
o The Wages and Hours Act 1938
o Minimum wage
o Maximum workweek
o Overtime rate
o Child labor restricted
o National Labor Relations Act (1935)
o Area Redevelopment Act (1961) mainly provided infrastructure in the Appalachian region with an experimental Food Stamp Program.
o Manpower Development and Training Act (1962).
Those opposed to civil rights and the Great Society were successful in limiting the success of achieving equal rights and opportunities for all by giving control for many of these efforts to individual states, even though they are federal programs. Today the same states and their representatives and senators want to cut the budget while still in a recession recovery mode. I have no doubt that the agencies created by these civil rights acts are in their cross hairs. The ideas of a “Great Society” are abhorrent to many and view civil rights as a threat to their rights. They honestly believe that civil rights impede growth and capitalism rather than seeing that an equally educated and motivated society enhances our entire nation. The very few at the top of a monetary food chain will have less control over the multitude. These Robber Barons, Vulture Capitalists and the extremely rich are the same class of peoples that gave us the Great Depression and most recently the Great Recession.
In closing, this writer’s British ancestors first landed in Plymouth, MA, in 1630. I am proud to say that my grandsons can claim honorable ancestors from four continents. As the old commercial said: “We’ve come a long way baby”, and I say we have a long way to go to reach our potential.
Side note: I would like to a see a National American Rights Day where we honor FDR, JFK, LBJ, and MLK.
To submit a blog to Free Speech Zone, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep it to 250 words or fewer. You MUST include your full name, hometown, and state. You may attach a photograph of yourself. Please include a phone number. This WILL NOT be published. Posting any given blog is within the discretion of the USW. No blog using foul language (this is a family site), false information (we don’t want to get sued), or unnecessary personal attacks (again, we don’t want to get sued) will be used. Wait a reasonable period of time, then blog again! This is a Free Speech Zone.
Posted January 3, 2013 at 11:16 am, in Free Speech Zone