Date of Award

1968

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Clarence A. Allison

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Root

Third Advisor

Dr. James C. Berryman

Abstract

For several years because of change or the lack of change, an increasing number of the population of the United States have been the ranks of the poor. The Community Action Program was designed to give a voice to the poor. Due to the fact that Community Action Agencies were new, their function and objective may not have been understood.

This study has been concerned with the problem of poverty in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, and the efforts of the Lincoln Total Community Action Agency, Inc., organized under provisions of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act passed by the United States Congress, to eliminate poverty in this parish. The basic premise underlying that section of the Act authorizing the creation of Community Action Agencies is that poverty, although it may have universal similarities, is manifested in different forms throughout the country. Each community knows best not only the causes of poverty, but also the methods by which it should be combated.

Poverty has not been eliminated in Lincoln Parish. Overwhelming evidence exists, even to the casual observer, to support this fact. However, a beginning has been made and a commitment of community concern has been vividly expressed.

The effort to do something about this ill was not marked by spectacular successes. Instead, it was marked by the realization that the causes of poverty are deep-rooted in historical, sociological, economical and psychological factors. What the Lincoln Total Community Action Agency, Inc. was attempting to do was to change the status quo, to move the community from where it had been standing, to where it should stand in the future.

Lincoln Parish was thought of as an ideal place to rear a family. It was blessed with two institutions of higher education, beautiful homes and subdivisions, new industry, business concerns and financial institutions, and other symbols of affluence and commerce. But there was another side of the parish that was not part of the popular image. This was the Lincoln Parish of "poverty."The parish was marked by such symbols as sub- standard housing, unemployment and more important, by under-employment, and by citizens whose health practices were at best, primitive. In many instances, broken homes were held together with the sole responsibility resting on the female; neighborhoods with a high rate of illegitimacy and crime, apathy and ignorance are found in the ''other'' Lincoln Parish.

Included in this report was additional information indicating the incidence of poverty in Lincoln Parish. A careful study of this information should help to explain the nature of this problem.

Unfortunately, in many instances, the blame for being in their condition has been placed on the poor themselves. Statements such as "All a person has to do is to merely show some initiative in order to rise from poverty," indicated that the poor themselves have been blamed for this condition. With this attitude, many affluent members of our society have been guilty of oversimplifying the problem. When this is considered as the problem, the importance of such factors as environmental and social conditions which are beyond their control, and which, in the end, tend to make a person what he is, is forgotten.

 
 

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