Rocky Mount, like many other southern towns in the 1960's, was racially segregated. While opportunities for employment existed they typically excluded blacks. This exclusion left many rural blacks struggling, poor, and sometimes homeless. America's "War on Poverty" program, a creation of President Lyndon Johnson was created to combat the nations growth in poverty. The "War on Poverty" helped promote racial equality and black economic advancement by opening up new job positions and opportunities. While the War on Poverty was a national program, it was executed by local and state organizations. When the federal government relies on state and local governments to implement its programs like it did in the 1960's- it runs the risk of local politics impeding progress. Racist's southern governments used their own biases to deny blacks opportunities provided by federal dollars.
Americans were not united in using the government program to reduce poverty.
Farmers were angry because their tenants were being bought out by the government. One Nash County farmer explained, "I have no objection to those people who are out of employment being employed by the government, but I do not think it is fair that the Government should spend public money in hiring tenants from my farm." (Harirjian 640). Others argued that it is a waste of money and black domestic laborers work harder for less pay. Many people opposed the new program and tried their best to keep it from promoting racial equality and black economic advancements.
There were plenty of programs to help African Americans but they were not aware of the resources available because whites dictated how they wanted these programs to function on a local level. About two dozen African American citizens in Nash County marched up to the Community Action Program (CAP), NEED, to demand answers-...