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Shriver Consulting Experts as Preparations for “War on Poverty” Get Underway

Feb. 14, 1964 - Leading economists, sociologists, and experts in related fields have spent the last 10 days in Washington offering their views to Sargent Shriver on how President Johnson may best put “muscle” into his “war against poverty.” Michael Harrington (pictured), author of “The Other America,” was one of the experts invited to Washington by Mr. Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps, who has been designated by the President to conduct the campaign against poverty.

Mr. Harrington said he was impressed with Mr. Shriver’s earnestness and was convinced that the Johnson Administration was determined to lead a frontal attack on poverty in the U.S. The author said he had urged a campaign that would simultaneously attack the problems of slum clearance, complete Social Security for the aged, education, and jobs. Mr. Harrington contended that to attack only one problem at a time would be self-defeating. He said he told Mr. Shriver that one way to clear the slums in American cities would be to train the slum dwellers to do the clearance job themselves and to erect integrated and classless housing projects.

In Mr. Harrington’s view, President Johnson’s announcement of a war against poverty may be regarded as the staging phase for such a war rather than the beginning of one itself. The campaign can be started only when long-range plans that include vast public works programs are completed, he said.

Although he expressed cautious optimism, Mr. Harrington said that perhaps a great national upsurge of public opinion — like the one that supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s social reform movement in the 1930s — might be necessary to ensure a national effort to obliterate poverty from the American scene.


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