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The American Dream - In Arkansas and the U.S.

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Is the American dream still achievable or has it reached a perilous state among average U.S. citizens?

In recent years, the venerable American dream has become an empty promise for increasing numbers of Americans and millions of middle class Americans are now unable to maintain the standard of living that they took for granted growing up. Meanwhile, more low-income families are unable to lift themselves out of poverty. Reviving the American dream has now become one of the most critical challenges facing the country.

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Come with us as we take a look at the state of the American dream in Arkansas and across the country in a special night of programming on Friday, Oct. 7, starting at 8 p.m. We’re proud to continue to address poverty in the state with “A Deeper Look: The Poverty Divide in Arkansas” at 8 p.m.; the premiere of part two of this series, “A Deeper Look: The American Dream in Arkansas,” at 8:30; and “Dream On” with John Fugelsang at 9.

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Through “A Deeper Look: The American Dream in Arkansas,” we’ll take a closer look at how poverty affects the lives and dreams of Arkansans. Arkansas continues to rank among the 10 states with the highest poverty rates, with poverty in the Delta substantially higher than poverty in urban counties. According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension's “Rural Profile of Arkansas,” a decline in the historically dominant industries of manufacturing and agriculture is changing the structure and economic base of rural Arkansas.

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In “A Deeper Look: The American Dream in Arkansas,” AETN visits two cities facing unique struggles. Most would agree that Blytheville and Pine Bluff have both seen better times – bustling downtown areas, vibrant social scenes and good economies. The downtown streets of both cities are eerily quiet these days. Once beautiful, ornate buildings sit exposed to the elements. At first glance, reflecting on the glory days of these cities, it would appear that the American dream in Arkansas is dead or dying.

AETN looks deeper by spending two weeks immersed in each city, uncovering stories that shed light on the state of the American dream in Arkansas. The result is a half-hour examination of the state of the American dream in the Arkansas Delta.

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We’ll also become more familiar with how changes affect the American dream on a nation scale in “Dream On” with political comedian John Fugelsang as he retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville. Though a Frenchman, Tocqueville — who study the United States in 1831 — came to define America as a place where anyone could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. Following in Tocqueville’s footsteps, Fugelsang speaks with fast food workers and retirees, prisoners and entrepreneurs, undocumented immigrants and community organizers about their hopes, dreams and daily struggles. “Dream On” explores whether the optimistic spirit of the American dream that Tocqueville observed is alive and well in the 21st century, or whether George Carlin was right when he famously quipped, “It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

TUNE IN:

Friday, Oct. 7, 2016

“A Deeper Look: The American Dream in Arkansas,” 8:30 p.m.

“Dream On” with John Fugelsang, 9 p.m.

“A Deeper Look: The Poverty Divide in Arkansas,” 8 p.m.