Why Iowa Matters
What’s the matter with Iowa is what’s the matter with large portions of the U.S. economy: extreme poverty in the presence of extreme wealth. In 1962, Michael Harrington wrote about it in his book The Other America. That America has not gone away. President Johnson’s war on poverty was not won. It was abandoned in the battlefields of Indochina. Today, the United Way estimates almost one in four Iowans live in poverty. And depending on how it is defined, the number of poor people nationwide range from 50 to 140 million. Persistent poverty from coast to coast and growing homelessness are systemic problems. What must be done? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, in his historic Riverside Church speech said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
Reverend William Barber chairs NAACP’s Legislative Political Action Committee. He co-chairs the Poor People’s Campaign and serves as pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is the author of Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing.