50 Years After Michael Harrington's The Other America
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50 Years After Michael Harrington’s The Other America, What’s Happened to the War on Poverty?
Thursday, November 8
Fifty years after the publication of The Other America, Michael Harrington’s groundbreaking study of poverty in the United States, a panel of progressive thinkers will discuss the persistence of poverty and the continuing relevance of Harrington’s ideas to today.
“50 years after Michael Harrington’s The Other America: Where is the War on Poverty?” will feature a discussion led by Harold Meyerson, Washington Post columnist and vice-chair of Democratic Socialists of America, and Heidi Hartmann, feminist economist and founder of the Institute for Women’s Policy. The program also will include a showing of the 1999 film “Michael Harrington and Today’s Other America: Corporate Power and Inequality.”
Harrington, who died in 1989, was one of the 20th century’s most prominent American socialists. He was a principal founder of DSA and a predecessor organization, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, after many years in the leadership of the Socialist Party of America. His other books included Socialism: Past and Future and his autobiography The Long-Distance Runner.
“The Other America…struck American liberals like a thunderbolt after its publication 50 years ago,” wrote Meyerson in The American Prospect. The book became a catalyst for the federal “War on Poverty” and led to the establishment of Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs. Harrington himself was invited to help the Johnson administration develop its anti-poverty initiatives.
“What ultimately emerged from the White House and Congress were…good ideas as far as they went, Harrington believed, but not sufficient to the problem at hand,” Meyerson wrote. The discussion will address how the War on Poverty fell short of its goals and what will be needed to inject new life into the anti-poverty struggle.
The program will be sponsored by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor (new window), Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America (new window), and Dissent Magazine.