President Lyndon B. Johnson's
Message to the Congress on the State of the
[ As delivered in person before a joint session ]
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the
House and Senate, my fellow Americans:
"...Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope--some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.
This administration today, here and now,
declares unconditional war on poverty in
It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.
Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.
For the war against poverty will not be won
The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs.
Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.
Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.
But whatever the cause, our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists--in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas
Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of
poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of
legislation, however, is going to suffice..."
Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the