President Lyndon B. Johnson gives the State of the Union Address [LBJ Library photo #3-6-WH64 by Cecil Stoughton]

Civil Rights, Tax Cuts, and the War On Poverty

Jan 08, 2014

50 years ago today, President Johnson declared a war on poverty. Below is a list of events acknowledging this pivotal moment in history. Click here for press coverage.

Taking place today - January 8, 2014

10:30 am ESTCongresswoman Barbara Lee, Members of Democratic Leadership, the Congresional Black Caucus Taskforce on Poverty and the Economy, The Democratic Whip’s Taskforce on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity to mark the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Declaration of the “War on Poverty” with special guest Lynda Johnson Robb.
Speeches on the floor beginning at 12 Noon EST, C-SPAN

3:30 pm EST Senior statesman, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin has reserved one hour of time on the Senate floor to honor President Johnson’s many accomplishments.

6:00 pm CST Larry Levinson on PBS News Hour

In his Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson outlined his plan to alleviate poverty in America. From his perspective, the social issues of civil rights, joblessness, inadequate schools, housing and healthcare were sympoms of the impoverished living conditions of one-fifth of American families. Johnson believed that the most effective way to “win the war on poverty” was to introduce legislation, programs, and tax cuts that would result in a Great Society, giving all Americans—not just the poor and underprivileged—a better quality of life.

This address also underscores President Johnson’s commitment to bipartisanship as he asks Congress to “to put [their] country ahead of [their] party, and to always debate principles; never debate personalities.”

Johnson’s efforts in the war against poverty transformed our country. As Joe Califano writes in “What Was Really Great About The Great Society,” from 1963 when he took office, until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century.”

All the AV materials on this page may be downloaded.

Videos

Lyndon Johnson's legacy of Getting It Done:

Download video (ZIP archive - 19.3 MB)

This film is from the LBJ Library moving picture collection created by the White House Naval Photographic Unit, aka the Navy Films.

Download video (ZIP archive - 110.5 MB)

President Johnson's State of the Union address, 1964.1/8/64. Index terms: Speeches; Congress; State of the Union Address LBJ Library video MP503 donated by CBS. No usage fees.

Download video (ZIP archive - 117 MB)

Photos

215-21-WH64

President Lyndon B. Johnson visit to Tom Fletcher residence during Poverty Tour of Appalachia. Serial Number: 215-21-WH64. Date: 04/24/1964. Download: Medium (6.6 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

C293-1-WH64

President Lyndon B. Johnson on his Poverty Tour visiting the Tom Fletcher family, Inez, Kentucky. Serial Number: C293-1-WH64. Date: 04/24/1964. Download: Medium (16.2 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

C293-2-WH64

President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, standing on the ground, speaking to the Fletchers, who are standing on the house's long front porch. Inez, Kentucky. Serial Number: C293-2-WH64. Date: 04/24/1964. Download: Medium (17.2 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

225-9-WH64

President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes the hand of one of the residents of Appalachia as Agent Rufus Youngblood (far left) looks on. Serial Number: 225-9-WH64. Date: 05/07/1964. Download: Medium (4.6 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

32451-5

Lady Bird Johnson's visit to economically depressed parts of rural U.S. Serial Number: 32451-5. Date: 05/21/1964. Download: Medium (9.1 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Unknown. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

C661-4-wh64

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Poverty Bill (also known as the Economic Opportunity Act) while press and supporters of the bill look on. Serial Number: C661-4-wh64. Date: 05/21/1964. Download: Medium (14.3 MB). Credit: LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton. Rights: This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

Telephone Conversations

President Johnson speaks with congressman Olin "Tiger" Teague from Texas. President Johnson is asking Teague to help him get votes for the Poverty Bill. Download audio file. Size 8.6 MB.

 

President Johnson speaks with Bill Moyers. Johnson says that while his plans will not solve the poverty problem, it is a beginning. Download audio file. Size 1.3 MB.