Coastal progress: eastern North Carolina's war on poverty, 1963-1972

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Karen Medlin Hawkins (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Thomas Jackson

Abstract: This dissertation puts forward a new and broader understanding of the factors that contributed to greater economic opportunity and declining poverty rates during the Great Society years and beyond through a study of the nation's first rural Community Action Agency (CAA) to receive federal funds as a part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Craven Operation Progress, Inc. (COP), located in mostly rural Eastern North Carolina, also was one of the eleven sites funded by the private non-profit North Carolina Fund, whose antipoverty programs both predated and served as models for the national War on Poverty. Aside from just the timing and source of its funding, the experiences of COP reveal a refreshingly different and far more encompassing story than has been told. In addition to focusing primarily on the fight to eradicate poverty in America's largest urban centers (many of which, like Mayor Daley's Chicago, were exceptional cases), scholarship on the War on Poverty has generally assumed that middle-class whites on CAA boards were either uninterested or unable to truly meet the needs of the poor, biracial agreement and cooperation was essentially impossible, and that confrontation and direct protest led by the poor and their liberal advocates was the primary and the most consistently effective means behind social change. "Coastal Progress: Eastern North Carolina's War on Poverty, 1963-1972" challenges these assumptions. With few exceptions, scholars have not looked beyond episodic conflicts and controversies to assess the wide-ranging interactions between whites and non-whites and between the poor and non-poor in their evaluations of CAAs. The research conducted for this study, which relies heavily on several untapped primary sources including 1960s and 1970s-era oral interviews of antipoverty workers and local citizens, records from the U.S. Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and written communications between COP and the North Carolina Fund as well as the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), confirms that negotiation and moderate white and black leadership in combination with manpower and economic development were key to the creation of economic opportunities for poor people in Eastern North Carolina and also to making those opportunities accessible to the poor, blacks in particular.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Community Action, Craven County, Eastern North Carolina, Economic Development, North Carolina Fund, War on Poverty
North Carolina Fund
Craven Operation Progress, Inc.
Poverty $z North Carolina $y 20th century
Economic assistance $z North Carolina $y 20th century
Economic stabilization $z North Carolina $y 20th century
Craven County (N.C.) $x Economic conditions $y 20th century

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