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In Washington, Congress is in no mood for new civil rights or economic justice legislation — its focus is "law and order" and "White Backlash" politics.President Johnson's priority is the Vietnam War, not the War on Poverty.He tells his SCLC colleagues, "I realize I must more and more extend my work beyond the borders of the South, and become involved to a much greater extent with the problems of the urban North." But except for James Bevel and Andrew Young, SCLC leaders and key advisors all oppose expanding out of the South.They argue that SCLC has no base of churches or affiliates in the North, little experience with issues of defacto rather than dejure segregation, and no strategy for addressing pervasive covert discrimination or urban poverty.King to apply his nonviolent direct action strategies to the festering problems of northern ghettos, pleas that become even more insistent after the Selma success. The misery and suffering of those imprisoned in the urban ghettos cry out to him.Since his student days he has been powerfully drawn to the social ministry, to the poor, the downtrodden, the dispossessed and disempowered.Instead of increasing funds to ameliorate urban misery, money once earmarked for social programs is being diverted to the military budget.And even if Vietnam were not draining national wealth, by now it is clear that federal poverty programs are mainly benefiting private businesses in the form of grants, subsidies and tax breaks.
For the real estate and banking industries, residential segregation is highly profitable.
In a sense, we are using the word "slum" interchangeably with what the sociologists refer to as a "ghetto." ... a young Negro murdered by a [white] gang in Cicero, where he was looking for a job. But just days after the Act is signed into law on August 6th, the Watts ghetto in California explodes in a massive uprising that dwarfs the Harlem revolt of the previous year.