Annelise Orleck is a professor of history, Jewish studies, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States (1995); The Soviet Jewish Americans (1999); Storming Caesar's Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty (2005); and Rethinking American Women's Activism (2014). She is also a coeditor of The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right (1997), with Alexis Jetter and Diana Taylor, and The War on Poverty, 1969-1980: A New Grassroots History (2011), with Lisa Gayle Hazirjian. Her newest book is entitled "We Are All Fast Food Workers Now": The Global Uprising against Poverty Wages (2018).
This lecture traces the impact of a War on the War on Poverty that began almost immediately after Lyndon Johnson's January 1964 declaration of war on poverty. In Ronald Reagan's Time For Choosing speech we find the elements of the major conservative arguments against federal poverty programs, particularly those that empower the poor, that we continue to see all the way through Paul Ryan's House Budget Committee Report on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. This talk traces a series of "show trials" of community-based organizations who were beneficiaries of federal War on Poverty monies, as a means to defund genuine grass roots organizations in favor of more traditionally credentialed service providers. It also makes the argument that the War on the War on Poverty was a powerful driver in the resurgence of conservative Republican Party activism from 1964 to 2014.