A Letter from

National Legal Aid & Defender Association

Washington, DC

NLADA joins the equal justice committee in mourning the passing of Sargent Shriver, who will be remembered as a stalwart advocate for the poor. Shriver, at the invitation of President Johnson, directed the "war on poverty" as the leader of the newly created Office of Economic Opportunity. He was a key player in the establishment of the first federally-funded Legal Services Program, a predecessor of the Legal Services Corporation and was the founder of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.

"Shriver recognized that access to legal representation is a critical component of helping America address the crippling conditions of poverty," Jo-Ann Wallace, president and CEO of NLADA said.

Under Shriver's leadership, the "war on poverty" sought to increase educational opportunities for low-income children; aggregate and disseminate a cadre of volunteers across the country to serve low-income communities; and establish a youth job training program that became known as the Job Corps. His dedication to establishing avenues of opportunity for low-income people shaped the lives of thousands of Americans and instilled a passion for community service in young people across the country.

In addition to his role as the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, he was the driving force behind the Peace Corps, which has sent more than 200,000 volunteers overseas with the mission of promoting peace and friendship around the world. He served as the head of the Special Olympics, which was found by his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

R. Sargent Shriver's mission to improve communities by addressing critical issues related to poverty has been carried on by countless individuals and organizations. NLADA joins the equal justice community and indeed all advocates for the poor in mourning the loss of R. Sargent Shriver.

National Legal Aid & Defender Association