50 Years Later: Renewed Call to End Poverty in Kentucky

MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty during a visit to eastern Kentucky.

Fifty years later, hundreds of people attended an event to talk about what's changed since that time.

The event even attracted former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The rally was called, "Dream: Martin County."

Several state, county and city leaders were alongside Huckabee to talk about changing the county for the better.

The overwhelming message was the government can't just pump money and resources into a community and expect it to change.

"Not just in Martin County, there are still people who are still poor, people who are underemployed or unemployed, people who will experience genuine poverty in their lives," Huckabee said.

Speakers said the community must work hard and have faith to truly turn things around.

Many people at the rally agreed. Several also hoped the coal industry could become a major source of income again.

"My husband, he's a coal miner and, yeah, it's went down but we just hope and pray that it comes back up," Freda Maynard said.

Huckabee said in 50 years, the government spent more than $21 trillion in the war on poverty.

Speakers at the event all agreed money wasn't the only way to fix the problem.

"It is very difficult for children to be able to break loose when so much of the family resources are geared just to the very fundamental basic necessities of life," Huckabee said.

Children from Martin County Schools also took the stage Friday afternoon. Many talked about their own dreams of becoming doctors, Broadway stars and going to Harvard.

School leaders echoed their enthusiasm by talking about new schools and technology for the county.

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