One of the giants in the struggle for social justice and peace in the United States has passed away. Dick Boone was a central figure in creating the War on Poverty in the 1960s. He headed the Citizen Action Program in the White House Office of Economic Opportunity and helped to create Head Start, Upward Bound and other major social programs. Influenced by Saul Alinsky, he believed passionately in the value of grass roots citizen action. After leaving government he dedicated his life to organizing and supporting citizen movements for economic justice and peace. In 1965 he co-founded the Citizens’ Crusade Against Poverty, cooperating with Senator Robert Kennedy to create the Food Stamp program, which continues to help tens of millions of Americans today.
I first met Boone in 1974 when he was director of the RFK Memorial, of which I was a fellow. A few years later he became head of the Field Foundation as I became director of SANE, and we worked together for more than a decade to help build the movement against nuclear weapons.
Boone was more than a colleague. He was a friend and mentor who profoundly shaped my life. We remained in touch after he closed the Field Foundation, and I made a point of visiting him at his home in Santa Barbara when traveling in the area. His wise counsel and personal warmth were a constant inspiration over the years.
Dick Boone will be sorely missed, but his life work continues in the programs and institutions he helped to build, and in the ongoing struggles for justice and peace of the many thousands of people he encouraged and supported. Presente.