Led by the Office of Economic Opportunity, Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty reflected the president's belief that, just as the civil rights movement and federal law tore down legalized segregation, progressive government and grassroots activism could eradicate poverty in the United States. Yet few have attempted to evaluate the relationship between the OEO and the freedom struggles of the 1960s. Focusing on the unique situation presented by Texas, Freedom Is Not Enough examines how the War on Poverty manifested itself in a state marked by racial division and diversity—and by endemic poverty.
Though the War on Poverty did not eradicate destitution in the United States, the history of the effort provides a unique window to examine the politics of race and social justice in the 1960s. William S. Clayson traces the rise and fall of postwar liberalism in the Lone Star State against a backdrop of dissent among Chicano militants and black nationalists who rejected Johnson's brand of liberalism. The conservative backlash that followed is another result of the dramatic political shifts revealed in the history of the OEO, completing this study of a unique facet in Texas's historical identity.