Published Mon, Sep 26, 2011 1:03 pm Dateline
Updated Mon, Sep 26, 2011 1:19 pm
One in six Americans are living in poverty. That's the highest number since the government began keeping track.
Reverend Jesse Jackson says it's time for the White House to step in and do something about it.
"You don't drown because the water's high, you drown because you stop kicking. Keep kicking!" says Jackson.
Jackson spoke at Ohio University in Athens today in front of Memorial Auditorium. That's the same place where, in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson talked about the "Great Society" for the first time and started the "War on Poverty."
"We cannot become indifferent to poverty. We have become so concentrated on our wealth. We have become so violent ,so inclined to war and so indifferent to poverty and that's not who we are on our best day," says Jackson.
After his news conference at Memorial Auditorum, Jackson gave a speech at Baker Center.
Jackson talked about how much things have changed since Johnson made his speech in Athens nearly 50 years ago.
"He's the guy that laid the foundation for the America that we now take for granted. It's hard for me to even imagine life before Lyndon Johnson. Life before Lyndon Johnson? I was arrested for trying to use a public library."
But Jackson says LBJ's work isn't done. He says that congress isn't dealing with the issue of poverty, so the White House needs to create a commission on poverty and address the problem.
"You never hear these guys in congress arguing for poor people. They're arguing for tax cuts, they're arguing for war, they're arguing for wealth. You would not think that there are poor people in their districts and yet their people are facing the need for public housing and public transportation," said Jackson.
Jackson also told the crowd that Ohio University needs to have a statue of LBJ on campus.