Robert F. Kennedy's epiphany in the Delta

One year and 56 days before Robert F. Kennedy lay bleeding on the floor from an assassin’s bullet in June 1968, he crouched on a floor in Cleveland, Miss., trying to coax a response from a listless, hungry toddler.

Kennedy visited Washington, Bolivar and Coahoma counties in 1967 as a U.S. senator on a fact-finding mission, looking at the effectiveness of War on Poverty programs. What he found, however, was much more than factual information about policies and programs. Click here to continue.

Allen Boyer: “Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi” -- Review 4/16/18

“Kennedy was on a fact-finding trip for the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty, but the journey’s impact was emotional. With Kennedy’s trip as her focal point, Ellen Meacham, a veteran reporter who teaches in the journalism school at Ole Miss, has written a perceptive history of Mississippi in the early 1960s.”

Find out more here

‘Delta Epiphany,’ on RFK’s Mississippi visit, raises questions anew -- Review 4/30/18

“Delta Epiphany is a moving portrait of a wrenching time in the history of America, the South, Mississippi. It captures an enduring moment of national shame but still begs the question: Has society progressed so much since then?” — Jim Ewing

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Guest Column, April 12, 2017

What Mississippi Taught Bobby Kennedy About Poverty

“Mr. Kennedy’s insights from his trip are as relevant today as they were in 1967, and it’s no coincidence that the programs that follow his lead are some of the region’s most successful. The challenge today is how to grow them and how to bring those insights to programs that are not having the impact they could.

“If he returned to the Delta today, Mr. Kennedy would cheer the advances but be dismayed at how hard advocates must fight to maintain that limited progress. And his heart would break to see there are still so many children in the Delta, and across America, who, like Annie White’s boy, must grasp for every crumb.”

— Read the rest here.

Guest column, April 10, 2017

50 years ago, RFK exposed hunger in Mississippi Delta

“A 2012 study found that 47 percent of children living in the Delta counties of Mississippi were overweight, and 28 percent of that number qualified as obese. Many of these children are feeding on the cheapest but nutritionally empty processed food that provides few benefits and dramatically increases risks of serious illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease as they age, casting yet another shadow over their future.

“Today we know, however, that food insecurity plays a surprising role in rising obesity rates.”

— Read the rest here.

Guest column, Oct. 21, 2016

Echoes of JFK’s 1957 call for party unity offer lessons for today

“If Kennedy had issued a political call to arms on segregation at the Young Democrats’ dinner that night, might he have started a revolution? Could he have delivered a stirring speech that blasted moderates like Winter out of their moderation, inspiring them to rise up and overturn the very foundations of their society? Maybe, but it seems unlikely. What is more likely is that he would have lost the entire room and made it harder for moderates like Winter.’

— Read the rest here.


Interview and article

by Bill Rose, July/August 2017

RFK IN THE DELTA: Writer Ellen Meacham discusses upcoming book on historic visit

Q. When did you know you had enough for a book?

A. It took me seven years to find the child on the floor of the shack that he was so moved by. Once I found that person, I thought, OK, I’ve got the makings of a book.

— Read the rest here.