Brittiny Spears, 26, is not with the father of her daughter, Zykeiria, 4. "He just still wanted to go out and party and be a little boy," Spears says. Jennifer Ludden/NPR hide caption

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Workers crowd into the backs of trucks in the opening scene of 1960's Harvest of Shame. CBS News/YouTube hide caption

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The Occupy Wall Street movement helped put the issue of income inequality in the spotlight. But economists say there's a balance. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

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Rolando Villazon and Alexia Voulgaridou star as Rodolfo and Mimi in a June 2001 production of Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme. Some real-life artists say the story cuts a little close to home. Arno Balzarini/AP hide caption

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Desiree Metcalf, here with one of her three daughters, is one of many poor Americans who find themselves trapped in a system meant to help. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

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One Family's Story Shows How The Cycle Of Poverty Is Hard To Break

Like her own mother was, Desiree Metcalf is a young, single mom living in poverty. She doesn't have just one or two problems, but a whole pile of them.

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Victoria Houser of Painted Post, N.Y., is raising her son, Brayden, on her own. She says she feels stuck in a never-ending cycle, constantly worried that one financial emergency will send everything tumbling down. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

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The Changing Picture Of Poverty: Hard Work Is 'Just Not Enough'

Many American families living in or right above the poverty line have flat-screen TVs, cars and cellphones — so what does living in poverty mean today?

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Tiffany Contreras gives a presentation in a nutrition class at Tulsa Community College. She's pursuing a degree in nursing as part of the Career Advance program. John W. Poole/NPR hide caption

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Maya Gaines, of the Baltimore CASH Campaign, tries to encourage people to put aside some of their tax refunds into savings. She rings bells, cheers and dances every time someone decides to do that. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

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President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, greet Tom Fletcher's family in Inez, Ky., in 1964. Fletcher was an unemployed saw mill worker with eight children. Bettman/Corbis hide caption

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Colby Kirk of Inez, Ky., is a junior at the University of Kentucky, studying to be a financial analyst. He says there aren't many opportunities for college grads in his hometown. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

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Coal-Mining Area Grapples With How To Keep 'Bright Young Minds'

Residents of Martin County, Ky., where President Johnson traveled to promote his War on Poverty in 1964, say they need jobs more than government aid.

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President Lyndon Johnson, on the porch of Tom Fletcher's cabin, listens to Fletcher describe some of the problems in Martin County, Ky., in 1964. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

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