Christmas in Appalachia (1964)

On December 21, 1964, nearly a year after Lyndon Johnson visited Inez, Kentucky to declare his War on Poverty, CBS News aired Christmas in Appalachia, a special report focused on poverty in eastern Kentucky. What reporter Charles Kuralt showed American audiences — just four days before Christmas — was a region beset by economic hardship, and families struggling to stay warm, clothed, and fed. According to the Paley Center for Media:

This special report focuses on the one million permanently poor people of Appalachia. Highlights of this program include a visit to the one-room Pert Creek schoolhouse in Kentucky on the day of the school Christmas program; a man recalling past Christmases; footage of the government surplus distribution center; a discussion with a man about his children’s lack of education; a discussion with a general store owner about automation and its effects on the lives of coal miners; an ex-miner discussing the government vocational school he hopes to attend; a look at the now-deserted business section of Beaver Creek Town in Weeksberry, Kentucky; and concluding comments by Charles Kuralt.

(Photograph: John Dominis. Caption: Appalachia, eastern Kentucky, 1964.)