The Other America: Poverty in the United States

Michael Harrington, The Other America. March 1962. “The Other America spurred many of the domestic policy initiatives undertaken by the federal government in the 1960s, known collectively as ‘the war on poverty.'” Maurice Isserman: “Harrington’s most famous appeal to the American conscience, The Other America, was a short work (one hundred and eighty-six pages in the original edition) with a simple thesis: poverty in the affluent society of the United States was both more extensive and more tenacious than most Americans assumed…. Harrington revealed to his readers that an “invisible land” of the poor, over forty million strong, or one in four Americans at the time, fell below the poverty line. For the most part this Other America existed in rural isolation and in crowded slums where middle-class visitors seldom ventured. ‘That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them,’ Harrington wrote in his introduction in 1962. ‘They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen.'”

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