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DISENTANGLING RACE AND POVERTY: The Civil Rights Response to Antipoverty Policy

  • Catherine M. Paden (a1)

Abstract

Throughout their histories, civil rights organizations have chosen to advocate on behalf of the poor, despite disincentives. This paper examines SNCC's and the NAACP's activities concerning the Economic Opportunity Act during the early and mid-1960s. First, I establish the level of attention SNCC and NAACP devoted to the War on Poverty. Based on analysis of the groups' archives, I find that both groups increased their attention to antipoverty policy during a period when other issues were salient to all African Americans. Second, I assess why these shifts in organizational priorities occurred. My findings indicate that competition among civil rights organizations drove the NAACP and SNCC to commit attention to antipoverty issues, and to focus attention on grassroots organizing concerning the War on Poverty. Differences in the organizations' structures mediated what form this attention would take.

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Corresponding author

Professor Catherine M. Paden, Department of Political Science, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: catherine.paden@simmons.edu

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