Press Release

A Movement to End Poverty

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014

Contact: Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org, (202) 339-9331

50th Anniversary of Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ Should be a Clarion Call to Energize a New Movement to End Poverty 

(WASHNGTON)—Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty,’ a comprehensive plan that fought poverty through actions that strengthened safety net programs such as food stamps and unemployment insurance that has lifted millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet out of poverty.

But these safety net programs are under assault by pro-austerity lawmakers that punish millions of Americans who need these programs to keep their families fed and housed.

The Center for Community Change believes the anniversary should be a clarion call to energize a new movement to end poverty. To achieve this goal and create a just and equitable economy for all requires us to build a movement that will fight to ensure that every one of us has access to a decent job with fair wages and benefits, public supports to supplement wages when needed, affordable access to health care, a secure retirement and the education necessary to succeed.

A down payment on the kind of economy we need to build will be immediate action by Congress to banish poverty wages forever by establishing a living wage for all Americans.

“From Idaho to Kentucky to Arkansas, citizens are demanding minimum wage increases,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “Wages are the most powerful tool individuals have to rise out of poverty. Today of all days Congress should commit not only to raising the federal minimum wage, but to setting us on a path to a nation where no person who works is trapped in poverty.”

The $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage has not kept pace with the costs of living for many American families. Right now, a parent with children who is working full-time and earning minimum wage does not earn enough to ascend the federal poverty line.

The Center for Community Change has pledged to make reducing poverty and inequality the central issue on the nation’s agenda. To meet this ambitious goal, we plan to engage low-income people in civic action to win poverty-reducing legislation and policies.

“President Johnson offered the nation a bold vision, but also a warning that is as true now as it was then: “If we fail, if we fritter and fumble away our opportunity in needless, senseless quarrels between Democrats and Republicans, or between the South and North, or between the Congress and administration, then history will rightfully judge us harshly,” Bhargava added.

###