To understand SPEA Senior Lecturer Bill Foley’s commitment to combating poverty, look no further than a thick black book that sits in his office. It’s a 600-page dissertation he wrote on urban affairs, including the War on Poverty.
“I didn’t mean to write quite this much,” he laughs. “It made sense at the time.”
Foley didn’t just write about poverty. He actively worked to support those trying to end it, including volunteering as part of Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968.
“The Kennedys wanted to do something about poverty,” he says. “They had an idea to bring jobs to those who needed them directly into the inner-city and did so with successful demonstration projects.”
Ideas like those inspired a nation, including Foley and his wife, Mairin. Yet their hope would be dealt an abrupt blow on June 6, 1968.
“We believed, as did Kennedy, that there were solutions that could easily end the disproportionate relationship between urban spending and urban poverty,” Foley says. “Sadly, America never got a chance to find out.”