Organizing for Economic Democracy

Organizing for Economic Democracy

Friday, January 31 / 1:00-5:30 PM
Student Resource Building

Fifty years ago this month, President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union Address to ask Congress to join him in fighting an “unconditional war on poverty” through full employment growth, an all-out “assault” on discrimination and investments in education, job training, and health care. At the heart of the administration’s program was a bold plan for federal support of locally-organized programs of community action and social welfare provision developed with “maximum feasible participation” from the poor. By offering people a voice in creating local Head Start programs, community health centers, child nutrition, legal services and much more, the Community Action Program changed the dynamic of struggles for access to human services and job opportunities that had been going on for decades, and worked in concert with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to support movements for fair labor standards and workplace democracy.

UCSB kicks off this year’s Critical Issues in America program with a symposium that looks back at – and forward from – the history of the grassroots War on Poverty to consider its enduring legacy for economic justice organizing today. Panels will bring together historians and activists building on 50 years of organizing for economic justice.


Community Action

Annelise Orleck (History, Dartmouth College)
Pete White (Founder and Co-Director, Los Angeles Community Action Network)

Workplace Justice

Sophia Lee (Law and History, University of Pennsylvania Law School)
Steven Pitts (Associate Chair, UC-Berkeley Labor Center)

Poverty Law/ Legal Services

Clare Pastore (Law, USC Gould Law School)
José Padilla (Executive Director, California Rural Legal Assistance)

Sponsored by the Dept. of History and and the Center for Work, Labor and Democracy.