Click on the play button below to watch a video overview of the tour.
(The following is abridged from a keynote speech given earlier this year. For the full text, please click this link: Full Speech.)
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson launched “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”
The occasion of Community Action’s 50th anniversary presents us with an opportunity and a responsibility. It is an opportunity to engage in a campaign of awareness raising, community outreach and education with a theme that connects diverse programs, communities and people and that recognizes and celebrates the very real successes of Community Action and the War on Poverty.
Poverty is not an accident or unavoidable social condition. It is man-made, a deliberate and predictable outcome of policies made over the last three plus decades that have ensured increasing privilege for the privileged and very little for the rest. We have erected structural and political barriers to economic opportunity and we have turned the war on poverty into a war on poor people. And we have retreated from the commitments made by President Johnson nearly 50 years ago when he signed the Economic Opportunity Act and declared that we had a moral obligation to help the “least among us.”
NYSCAA and the state’s network of Community Action Agencies are responding to the call of this moment with NYS Community Action 1964 -2014: From Poverty to Opportunity Tour, otherwise known as the Poverty Tour 2014. We can make real the dream of opportunity for all.
The tour will be a vehicle for us to engage in a discussion about poverty, inequality and the programs that have worked so well to help our most vulnerable neighbors. In town hall meetings, press events and community outreach efforts we will engage in conversations that are just the beginning of what must become our second 50 years of advocacy and anti-poverty work. It is, I believe, sacred work, reaching out to and recognizing the dignity of every human being. And it is the work that will ensure that we pass to our children and grandchildren a legacy of hope, opportunity and love. It is hard to imagine anything more important. I hope you will join us and I look forward to seeing you “on the road” in 2014.
– Karla Digirolamo