“That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen.” – Michael Harrington
Born in St. Louis, MO, on this date in 1924, Harrington became one of America’s best-known political and social justice activists during his lifetime. The author of 16 books and countless essays, his most famous work is The Other America, a condemnation of our treatment of the poor and advocacy for social justice. Credited with coining the term “neo-conservatism,” he not only was a well-known writer but also a well-known commentator and speaker, contributing commentaries to National Public Radio and speaking at colleges and universities across the country.
From 1972 until his death he also taught political science at Queens College in New York, an institution that named him to a “Distinguished Professorship” in 1988 and established "The Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change" following his death from cancer in 1989. In addition to contributing pieces to political and religious magazines and journals, Harrington was a frequent writer for The New York Review of Books.
Always eager to speak and write on behalf of those in poverty, he noted, “If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery.”
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