The war on poverty is unique.  The war on poverty, like it or not, is the single outstanding commitment this Nation has made to the principle that poverty must be abolished.  Not just that fathers shall not be without jobs, and children without education, and mothers without medical care through it is all of these.  The war on poverty is a commitment to the principle that every American shall have the same opportunities to make a life for himself and for his own children-and the same opportunity to share in the government of his city and State and country, the same opportunity to share in the great enterprises of American public life.

This is the legislation-this is the public declaration-that the poor of America are not ignored, not forgotten-that we are willing to see them, and hear them and act with them to help them help themselves, to be active and productive citizens, and not passive recipients of whatever is left over from our riches.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy
In the Senate of the United States
October 3, 1966