UC Berkeley Library

America's War on Poverty.

Produced and directed by Susan Bellows. Produced by Blackside, Inc. 57 min ea. In this Affluent Society. In the early 1960s, hundreds of Kentucky coal miners are displaced by machines and strike out at their former employers. Millions of others displaced by machines across Appalachia and the rural South head north to begin a new life in Chicago, where they face overcrowded tenements and schools, and the familiar inequities of segregation. This program recounts these stories of desperation and hope and explores the origins of the federal government's war on poverty and how attitudes toward race and faith in the accessibility of the American dream shape the battle plans for the nation's greatest effort to reduce poverty. [preservation copy] Given a Chance. Early 1965 is a critical period for President Johnson's war on poverty. The Office of Economic Opportunity's goal to have the poor themselves design and run anti-poverty programs attracts strong opposition from local and state governments. Head Start is created to provide poor children with adequate nutrition, health care and the educational advantages that other American children enjoy. This program focuses on the Head Start program in Mississippi. [preservation copy] City of Promise. The context for the war on poverty shifts after 1965. Urban rebellions provoke a sense of urgency for some, while others now see the war against poverty as hopeless. Increasingly, the media and the public equate poverty with inner-city black communities. This program looks at the anger and despair of the poor and the powerless, and the anger and frustration of the middle class at having to pay for "others' mistakes." It also examines attempts made in Newark, New Jersey, to reclaim the inner city through public/private partnerships. [preservation copy] In Service to America. By 1967, poverty warriors increase the sophistication of their tactics at the same time that a number of outspoken opponents rise to national prominence. This program highlights the beginning of Legal Services and VISTA, two programs that combined individual action with the idea of volunteerism. Lawyers team up with migrant farm workers in California to fight for better education, health care and working conditions, and VISTA volunteers and local residents organize against strip mining in Appalachia. Both stories raise significant questions about activities the government funds in the name of fighting poverty. [preservation copy] My Brother's Keeper. The Nixon Administration and the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) bring the nation to the brink of overhauling the federal social security system and replacing welfare with a guaranteed income for all citizens. When it appears the guaranteed income will be quite low, the NWRO joins an alliance of conservatives and liberals to defeat the proposed legislation. [preservation copy]
See separate bibliography of reviews and articles about this film
CINE Film & Video Awards 1995 (Golden Eagle).