Freedom and Equality for the Least-Advantaged

Soon after assuming office in 1963, Johnson resurrected the phrase “freedom from want”, all but forgotten during the 1950s. Recognizing that black poverty was fundamentally different from the white one, since its roots lay in “past injustice and present prejudice”, he wanted to redefine the relationship between freedom and equality. He insisted that “we seek not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result”. The powers of the national government were mobilized to address the needs of the least-advantaged Americans, especially those, like blacks, largely excluded from the New Deal entitlements, such as Social Security. Coupled with the decade’s high rate of economic growth, the War on Poverty succeeded in reducing the incidence of poverty from 22% to 13% of American families during the 1960s.