THE OTHER AMERICA PUBLISHED 54 YEARS AGO TODAY
New York City (JFK+50) Fifty-four years ago today, March 19, 1962, Michael Harrington* published The Other America: Poverty in the United States. Mr. Harrington expected to sell only about a thousand copies, but to date it has sold over a million.
Harrington wrote that "poverty in the...United States was both extensive and more tenacious than most Americans assumed." He estimated that in 1962 at least 25% of the population of the United States lived in poverty. He wrote...
"(The poor) are not simply neglected and forgotten (but), much worse, they are not seen."
The Other America was brought to the attention of President John F. Kennedy by a review of the book written by Dwight Macdonald in The New Yorker magazine.
It is believed that Harrington's words influenced both President Kennedy as well as his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. The ultimate result, of course, was "The War on Poverty."
Business Week called The Other America "a classic work" on poverty.
In 2011, Maurice Isserman pointed out that poverty in America had not gone away with the passage of time. He wrote that 46 million Americans were then living below the poverty line set at $22,314 for a family of four.
*Edward Michael Harrington (1928-1989) was born in St. Louis & educated at Holy Cross, Yale Law School and the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of Democratic Socialists of America. EMH published more than fifty books.
"50 Years Later: Poverty and the Other America," by Maurice Isserman, Winter 2012, www.dissentmagazine.org/
"Clothes make the poor invisible. America has the best-dressed poverty the world has ever known."