Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Provide for Continued Progress in the Nation's War on Poverty.

November 08, 1966

TWENTY-SIX months ago, I signed into law this Nation's declaration of war against poverty, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. At that time I said:

"Our American answer to poverty is not to make the poor more secure in their poverty but to reach down and to help them lift themselves out of the ruts of poverty and move with the large majority along the high road of hope and prosperity

On that August day, there were more than 34 million Americans living in acute want and deprivation. Even though they lived among us in our cities and our rural communities, they were largely ignored and unheard. Most Americans were unaware of their existence. Between them and the America of abundance known to most of us there were almost no bridges they could cross.

That was 2 years ago. So much has happened since then that it is almost impossible to believe so short a time has passed.

Now, the majority of Americans recognize the problem of poverty in our Nation and are determined to defeat it.

Now, local leadership in the cities, in the counties, and in the States is moving forward in partnership with the Federal Government, to design programs for fighting this national ill.

Now, some 1,000 communities are mobilized through Community Action to fight the hometown battle against conditions which keep people poor.

Now, just over 2 years after this declaration of war on poverty was signed, we have dynamic programs in action which have captured the imagination and the support of the largest volunteer army in our history:

--The Head Start program has over 1 million of our poor preschool children-and through them, their parents and families.

--There is the Job Corps in which more than 30,000 young men and women are being trained for more productive lives.

--There is the Neighborhood Youth Corps which has provided meaningful employment to more than 750,000 poor youth.

--There are more than 3,500 Vista Volunteers living and working among the poor in the finest spirit of American sharing and helping.

--We have legal services bringing justice to the poor, and neighborhood centers-more than 600 of them--focusing a variety of services in the areas where they are most needed.

--We have Upward Bound, the Foster Grandparents program, Neighborhood Health Centers, and new activity on our Indian reservations and in migrant camps.

--Special loan programs are helping our rural poor. Almost one-third of our poverty funds are going to rural America.

Still it is not enough. We cannot rest until every man and woman and child has been helped out of the abyss of poverty.

We will continue to move forward against this enemy. We will continue to mount an attack which has already helped bring more than 2 million people out of poverty over the past 2 years.

I am proud of what has been accomplished under the leadership of Sargent Shriver and this administration. We intend to continue the war against poverty with a determination strengthened by our progress over the past 2 years.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 15111) is Public Law 89-794 (80 Stat. 1451).

For the President's remarks upon signing the Economic Opportunity Act on August 20, 1964, see 1963-64 volume, this series, Book II, Item 528.
The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Provide for Continued Progress in the Nation's War on Poverty. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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