CINCINNATI — Poverty must be addressed with a federal effort reminiscent of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war” on the problem in the 1960s, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told a crowd Monday in Appalachian Ohio.
Jackson asked students in a speech at Ohio University in Athens to help in his efforts to launch the effort, he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview after the speech.
Jackson is appealing for a White House Commission to address poverty and malnutrition. He said he chose the university in Athens for his speech because that is where Johnson gave a speech on his own administration’s effort, called the War on Poverty, in 1964.
“Johnson launched his war on poverty from this school and this is the place to re-ignite that war,” Jackson said. “We have the capacity now to end malnutrition in this country.”
No one since that president has put the focus on poverty that Johnson did, Jackson said.
“Appalachia has hard-working poor people, who are so underrepresented, and I think it is ground zero for launching a new effort,” Jackson said.
The two-time presidential candidate is founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an international social change organization. He has pointed to recently released census statistics showing the ranks of the nation’s poor have swelled to a record 46.2 million — nearly 1 in 6 Americans.
“We should be having hearings in Congress on poverty, whether it’s in Appalachia or urban America,” he said. “We need to expand the LBJ dream.”
Jackson said that he would contact every level of government in his campaign, but that right now “we are starting with the people.”