Date of Award

7-1-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr.William Boone

Second Advisor

Dr. Hashim Gibrill

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard Grant

Abstract

This study examines the persistent poverty that exists among African Americans in the United States. It explains why African Americans in the United States are much more likely to live and/or remain in poverty than any other population group. This study is based on the premise that the governmental system has affected African Americans through the use of public policies. This study demonstrates how the outcome of public policies, programs and institutional practices has impacted the lives of African Americans. The primary focus of this study is to challenge the long-standing, incorrect, misdirected, flawed paradigm that was designed to eliminate poverty through the use of federal antipoverty policies and programs. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty Great Society Legislation was used as a single case study approach to analyze and gather data to determine if antipoverty programs and policies have helped or hindered African Americans, in moving in or out of poverty. Although, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society Legislation was notable and made an honest attempt to eliminate poverty, it suffered from the same fatal flaws of trying to fix/blame the individual instead of blaming the structural failures within the governmental system. In this research, the results show that failed federal policies and programs have caused African Americans to remain poor and underprivileged in the United States. Failed policies have also created a culture of poverty among poor African Americans, meaning that they have learned to adapt to a lifestyle that allows them to deal with poverty, while sharing common problems such as having the lowest income levels with the least amount of education. The results show that African Americans are persistently i5oor because of the structural failures within the governmental system, not because of an individual’s chracteristics. The conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that: the old paradigm must be challenged and changed; there is a systemic problem within United States governmenta institutions and it’s political, economic, and social structures failed to satisfy the needs of the poor. Poverty was not lessened or eliminated among African Americans, they continue to have the highest poverty rates when compared to white Americans, and they continuously face barriers to employment, access to health care and medical services, educational attainment, unaffordable housing and inequality. This study will challenge the United States governmental system, its policies and programs that were created to minimize or eliminate poverty. This study is instrumental because it will reconceptualize poverty and propose a prevailing paradigm shift in United States public policy. It will provide the federal government with prescriptions to look at poverty differently, focusing on the failures within the structure of government instead of blaming the powerless individual.

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