Report on Hamline University’s War on Poverty Week

By Marie Failinger

As part of the national commemoration of the War on Poverty, Hamline University held its War on Poverty Week from September 8-12, 2014. In addition to library displays at the law school and college libraries on the War on Poverty, the Law School and Social Justice Program of the College of Liberal Arts hosted three speakers.

Former USDA Undersecretary Bud Philbrook traced the history of government food programs such as WIC and Food Stamps, and discussed current efforts by governments and NGOs around the world to focus on providing comprehensive medical care, nutrition and education services to pregnant women and small children during the first few years of life, when children gain virtually all of their IQ points. Without these assets, children become stunted, which has tragic effects on their ability to learn and participate as productive citizens.   His presentation can be viewed at this Blackboard link:

Sociologist Ryan LeCount discussed the racialized history of the War on Poverty welfare programs, and the use of racial stereotypes against political candidates in the last decades of presidential elections.   He presented studies showing how historical and current attitudes toward welfare have been shaped by images of women of color, particularly African American women, as unwilling to work; and how these images have also made an impact on welfare policy, including discriminatory targeting of African Americans for welfare sanctions. LeCount also discussed the documented ways in which this discriminatory administration of welfare programs has resulted in worse life outcomes for targeted welfare recipients, including their low level of civic engagement.  His presentation can be viewed at this Blackboard link:

Health law professor Laura Hermer traced the history of medical assistance programs in the United States, discussed the changes made by the Affordable Care Act in these programs, and discussed projections for health care coverage among the poor and prospects for health care programs in the future.

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