On November 15, 2017, John Bouman spoke at the Bartling lecture. Bouman is a lawyer and the founder of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Illinois. His educational lecture focused on the prevention of poverty and reflected on the history of The War on Poverty. In 1962, Michael Harent wrote a book called, The Other American, which stated that 22% of the American population was in poverty in 1959. That is roughly every one in five people in America. This was a shock to many Americans, including presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The War on Poverty all began during the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. President Johnson spoke to Shriver, who ran The Peace Core at the time, and wanted him to run The War on Poverty as well. Eventually, he ran became “The President of Poverty”. Shriver and other political leaders had specific requirements in order for this War on Poverty to be successful. This included: 1. the knowledge that fighting poverty does not mean America needs a spending spree; 2. The key stakeholders are to bring hope and opportunity, not free handouts; 3. People will receive equity; 4. This war will help everyone, not just the poor.
Shriver supported the idea that all people, even the poor, have access to legal services. This created a legal reform around the time of President Nixon. In the 1990’s the government disputed if they should continue their funding of legal services. After six months of debating and stalling the policy work, the government decided to continue legal services. After this event, Bouman left Legal Services and founded Shriver Center. Through the rapidly growing business and impact the Shriver Center has had, lawyers can continue to humbly work with community leaders by advocating for the poor and working on policies to uplift those in poverty in America. Bouman ended with the statistic that poverty in America has decreased to 12.7%, but this does not mean that the government is done fighting and that Americans should ignore these concerns.
Bouman discussed the effects poverty has on children and the stress it brings on brain development. Children do not have a choice of what social class they are born into, which influences their future as well. A child that is born into deep poverty can experience large amounts of trauma and stress, due to the overwhelming financial burden their parents may experience. Bouman stated that the stress is released by hormones that effect the developing brain. The Honors class talked about the brain and the reaction the body has to specific stimuli in relation to the brain and mind.
I liked the this lecture. I was not expecting it to be focused on the historical standpoint of a lawyer and the history of his company intertwining with the history relating to the previous presidency. Knowing this new information has given me a different perspective on the impact the government and influential people in America have to fight poverty. Bouman addressed in his lecture that poverty will not be eliminated, but it can be reduced significantly. He proved that history has been a reliable source to show Americans the impacts we have to reduce Poverty and make a difference in our economy.