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Perspective: How goes the war on poverty?

 President Lyndon Johnson on his "poverty tour" of America in 1964.
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President Lyndon Johnson on his "poverty tour" of America in 1964.

On the wall in my office is a July 1965 article from Look magazine entitled: “How Goes the War on Poverty?” It is accompanied by a Norman Rockwell painting.

I was 11 years old when the article was published. It was written by Sargent Shriver, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.

Earlier tonight, I sat on a panel for a discussion about poverty in our area of Illinois. It was a listening session held by the Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security created as part of the Intergenerational Poverty Act signed on June 10, 2020. The goals of the commission include reducing deep poverty in the State by 50% by 2026. And eliminate child poverty by 2031, and eliminate all poverty in Illinois by 2036.

56 years later we start once again to talk about the elimination of poverty.

Having lived through the war on poverty, and watched as its wins were slowly chipped away, and year after year there are attempts to dismantle the gains of the “Great society”.

It really is not a matter of knowing what to do to end poverty. We have seen several programs that have made great differences.

We know what to do, we just need those with the power to care enough about the people to make it happen.

I’m Dan Kenney and this is my perspective.

Dan Kenney is a retired elementary school teacher and the founder of DeKalb County Community Gardens. He's also a published poet and writer.