What Inspired Robert F. Kennedy’s Fight Against Hunger

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In 1967, Senator Robert F. Kennedy traveled to Mississippi to check on the progress of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, better known as the War on Poverty. What he found, writes Peter Edelman in his book So Rich, So Poor, was “children, thousands of them, hungry to a point very near starvation.” Kennedy was “deeply moved and outraged,” Edelman writes, and made relieving hunger a top priority. These photos illustrate the lives of poor African-Americans in rural Mississippi around the time of Kennedy’s visit — images likely similar to the ones that inspired him.

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  • http://twitter.com/Liberalinsc1 Liberalinsc

    These images are like those from my childhood. Not really that long ago.

  • Jbsbuck

    Yes..Bill, we all know conservatives hate children..Is that what you’re trying to convince people of?

    Better yet..there has never been the number of poor, hungry and homeless as under the present president..Barack Obama..

    With all of the money he’s wasted..he has accomplished nothing more than dividing this nation and putting us more deeply in debt than any other president in this nation’s history..and in less time..

  • PW

    Ok, let’s bring this discussion back within the scope of what this post is about and leave the rest. Please comment on the Huffington Post or MSNBC’s website if you want to try to bait liberals. 

  • Billthebrown

    You ideology rules your common sense, your charity, and compassion.

  • Ballm95

    These kids don’t look hungry to me, they actually well feed, maybe we need to see some pictures Africa and compare.

  • Ballm95

    I’ve looked through all the pictures and don’t see one starving child, the children look like any fast growing kid, if they were fat, then we complain that they obese and eating too much at McDonald’s.    Now if you want to talk about their living conditions and their education, that’s a whole different story, everyone in their right mind knows these kids had no hope of a decent education that help them help themselves get out of this miserable poverty and suffering.   The lack of a decent education in demographically poor areas is the same today as it was then, irregardless of Democratic or Republican run regions. Poor stay Poor because of their education, let me say that again, Poor stay Poor because of their education…..

  • Cathy

    Yes, and today the poor are those who used to have jobs and were considered “middle class.” And we are not just people of color, although the core of the extreme impoverished are people of color. But the changes in the economy are affecting greater numbers of workers who had jobs, homes, cars, education, etc. The labor-replacing technology is transforming every aspect of our society. We are entering an epoch of social revolution and all institutions are being redesigned, along with the economy, to benefit the global rich. We are no longer needed by the ruling class so they no longer have an obligation to keep a social contract with us. 

  • Anonymous

     And, what will they do (the rich) when they no longer have our pensions, 401k’s and social security payments to raid? That is where we are headed. No income means none of those will be paid into.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1001771420 Nancy Morton

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    Bush’s Parting Gift: Poverty Rate Rose in 2008
    by Charles Lemos, Thu Sep 10, 2009 at 07:57:17 PM EDT
    The US Census Bureau released its annual report for 2008 which found that the nation’s poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent last year, up from 12.5 percent in 2007 and matching an eleven year high. Given the economy, next year’s report should find an even higher rate.According the US Census Bureau, 39.8 million US residents last year lived below the poverty line which is defined as an income of $22,025 for a family of four. Two and half million more people fell into poverty in the final year of Bush. Furthermore it is beyond disconcerting that the number of the severely poor has increased faster than any other segment of the population. Since 2000, this segment has expanded by close to 30%.Overall, median family incomes in 2008 fell to $50,300, compared with $52,200 the year before wiping the gains of the three previous years. Adjusted for inflation, median family incomes were lower in 2008 than a decade earlier. As Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard University, noted the Bush years were a “lost decade for the typical American family.”
    If there was good news in the report, it is that Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality (0 represents perfect income equality and 1 perfect inequality), remained effectively unchanged after climbing throughout the Bush years. Income inequality was statistically unchanged between 2007 and 2008, as measured by shares of aggregate household income by quintiles and the Gini index. The Gini index was 0.466 in 2008. The Gini index stood at 0.462 in 2000. The Gini Coefficient for the United States has risen steadily since 1967 though it has risen most acutely since 1981. That’s not by coincidence. It is the result of Republican neo-liberal policies that have dismantled the safety net and ushered in a tax policy that favors the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.It is important to note that the erosion of the American middle class can be traced to the Friedmanistic economic policies pursued by every Republican Administration since Ronald Reagan. And yet this remains largely a disconnect among the American people. The share of national income going to corporate profits has far outstripped the share going to wages and salaries. Manufacturing jobs with benefits and union protection have vanished since 1980 and have been supplanted by low-wage, low-security service-sector work. The richest fifth of US households enjoys more than 50 percent of the national income, while the poorest fifth gets by on an estimated 3.5 percent share of the national income. Even more striking is that the poorest region in the country remains the South where 14.3 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. And yet the South remains a GOP stronghold.As of 2006, the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent is 63 times larger than the average for the bottom 20 percent – both because the rich have grown richer and also because the poor have grown poorer; about 19 percent poorer since the late 1970s. The middle class, too, has been squeezed ever tighter. Every income group except for the top 20 percent has lost ground in the past 30 years, regardless of whether the economy has boomed or tanked. And this is by design, courtesy of the GOP.
    Tags: Poverty, Social Inequality, US Census Bureau (all tags)
    4 Comments0 recsSharePermalinkComments
    4 CommentsSort by            sort           newer           most popular           older         permalink
    Re: Bush’s Parting Gift: Poverty Rate Rose in 2008
    I’m beginning to have a hard time feeling sorry or even concerned for the middle class, considering its adoration for Ronnie Hollywood and the Bushes.I rode with a high school baseball team to the Indiana State finals at West Lafayete in 2005 and roomed with the bus driver that night. He was concerned about the credit card cruchn and how it was efffecting his family, but he was also bragging about John Hagee said regarding W’s toughness and Clinton’s supposed inability to stare down our enenmies.In 1984, there 35,000 people at an airport rally for Ronald Reagan in Decatur, IL (lots of chickens for Col Sanders there)and you have all kinds of blue collar and middle class types willing to say “Mega-Dittoes” to anything Tubby Taliban says.I even have reservations about health care reform and the possibility that my tax dollars wiill help buy oxygen tanks for some smoker’s rights goon.Please forgive my heartlessness, I just have days when I feel like saying to the middle class right “you chose your fears and hatreds over your best interests and nwo see what you’ve done.”They should have thought of that when they went wild fro Mr. Hollywood and the Bushes, so it’s tough to feel very sympathetic.Thanks to Ronnie and the Bushes, I’ve been an ex-Republican for almost 30 years.by spirowasright 2009-09-10 08:15PM | 0 recs

    Re: Bush’s Parting Gift: Poverty Rate Rose in 2008
    And let’s not forget the little toy soldier who was a key player in the Iran-Contra Affair, either.Bob Dole wondered where the outrage was over the so-called Clinton scandals in 1996. Well, the economy was in good shape and Us Stupid Americans forfeited any right to outrage when we let Bush I and Reagan skate in the Contra-versy.by spirowasright 2009-09-10 08:18PM | 0 recs

    Re: Bush’s Parting Gift: Poverty Rate Rose in 2008
    Well maybe the middle class-and the farmers, and the working class-would have voted against Reagan and the Bushes had the Democratic party come up with a decent alternative, not the centrist, neoliberal, DLC junk of the past decades.  Were things really that much better under Clinton?by demjim 2009-09-11 06:40AM | 0 recs

    permalinkRe: Bush’s Parting Gift: Poverty Rate Rose in 2008We had peace and prosperity under Clinton, but you’re right about the candiates who ran against Grandpa Movieland and Bush I.I think the Chicago Black Sox put more effort into winning the 1919 World Series than the Democrats did in taking back the WH in 1984.

    by spirowasright 2009-09-11 08:51AM | 0 recs
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  • Lindahsmall

    And the U.S,. Congress has now cut food stamps and supplemental food programs in the farm bill.  Congratulations getting your priorities straight folks.
    I hope you sleep at night with these pictures in your heads.  Heartfelt appreciation to Marian Wright Edelman who continues to steer by a moral compass that has not wavered in all these years.  she gives us hope and urges us all on to live up to the great deeds of those who have gone before. 

  • Attyburton

    A whole lot of people on food stamps work.  Many military families are on food stamps/ 

  • Anonymous

     I know, and I can bet that they also have nothing left over to put into any savings, an endeavor that is of value to the financial system moguls (think of all the 401k’s that lost half their value in the crash).  Cathy was speaking of the social contract. It’s really nonexistent, the attitude is that if you’re not producing you are a waste of space. Doesn’t matter that if through no fault of your own, you can no longer support yourself. The only reason some of the social safety net is still is available is that if enough hunger exists, there will be mass unrest in the general population. So, what will our leaders need of us, or do for us,  if we are not able to produce any value that is of use to them?

    Musing on this line of thought after viewing,

  • Kozferg

    I was extremely disturbed by the interview today regarding Big Banks and Wall Street.
    It was a frightening indictment of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, and a Wall Street now literally compared to the Mafia.
    I recall watching Jamie Dimon being interviewed on Capitol Hill —
    my immediate impression was that he was trying his best not to laugh in the faces of the congressional committee.
    And the latest Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited corporate and private monies into the election system only adds
    to the imminent dangers this country faces from dominant special interests within its own bureaucracy.
    Distrust in the moral fiber of our institutions is rapidly building and can only lead to a breakdown of out democratic
    and capitalist system.  I hope it’s not too late to change course.

  • 4 whirledpeas

    Just wanted to draw attention to the NUN (as it is anecdotal evidence of  Sister Simone’s comments –that nuns have a long tradition of both serving and providing guidance to those in need).  

  • http://twitter.com/moment_um moment_um

    There’s a film clip of this on the Peter Edelman part of the 6/22/show-they said they found kids with swollen bellies like in Africa-empty refrigerators & that they were appalled!-I personally remember this when it happened-

  • http://twitter.com/moment_um moment_um

    Boy, have U drank the kool-aid-Look it up -not on fox news propaganda shows-PBO has not spent more than other presidents-the recession is Bushs & the present Republican Congress who are trying to make  Obama look like he’s failing. The wars were Bushs which he even admitted later that the WMD were not there in Iraq-If U can’t understand your Bible correctly-find someone that REALLY can interpret it for U ,apparently outside of your present circle, or U will pay the price of your coldstone heart.Apparently U have the Internet-use it wisely. By the way,I personally remember this when it happened, Watch the Film clip from the Peter Edelman part of the June 22 show;As for dividing the nation-the responsibility for that lies squarely on the shoulders of Republicans &Tea Party-U suffer from what is commonly known as ‘backwards’. U think there are homeless now-if the republicans get in the white house-we will become a third world country for all the homeless there will be-even the soup kitchens depend on some gov assistance.Geez-Get a grip!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Craik/1684882687 Susan Craik

     of course conservatives don’t hate children, at least not their own.

  • M. Sanson

    Your delusions are almost comedic in nature. Who was it that refused to take the President’s calls on Election Night? Hmm? The debt has declined since the President has taken office. The debt that remains, according to the non-partisan folks at cbpp.org, is fueled by…drum roll… TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH AND UNFUNDED WARS!

    You are as deceitful as you are ignorant. That covers a whole lot of ground.

  • M. Sanson

    You are a puke sock. Had you read what Marian Edelman wrote about what she witnessed, you would know that many children were inside the homes, too sick from hunger to engage in activity, She wrote of how Bobby tried to coax a bloated baby to make signs of life but it was too sick. Shut up and read in the remote hope that you may learn something. For instance, it may surprise you to know that “irregardless” is not a word.

  • Anonymous

    In the US, Corporations have control of the government. They get their own boy goffers elected. They decide that there is more profit in bombing people in other countries than in feeding either them or our own. The Kennedy’s began to see this and were both shot to stop “bleeding heart liberals” from cutting into the profits.
    Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan; all brought extreme profits to big oil, and other corporations. Exxon/Mobile made $44 billion dollars the first year of the Iraq war. Price gouging (illegal) doubled the price of gasoline and the people did not complain thinking it was simply the part they had to pay in supporting the war effort. The CEO of E/M took his 10% cut of $44 million and hit the road.
    McCain has been stomping for war in Syria. Why not?> Bush junior and Cheney made an estimated 100 million each off pushing the Iraq war from big oil and Halliburton respectively.
    When it seemed that involvement in Syria was eminent, even Obama was on board, Halliburton and Raytheon announced that they were hiring!
    Get this straight: The economy crashed because Reagan began the Free Market movement to deregulate Wall Street, then Bush and Junior continued letting Wall Street do what ever they wanted.
    Small Government means no controls over big business.
    The republican party all votes as one because if a member refuses, the GOP money machine will fund an opponent. Lies, misinformation, slander, studies by bogus groups to back their lies run rampant.
    This isn’t recent. Nixon’s first political race was dirty. “She’s pink down to her underwear.” suggested that the woman he wanted to beat was a communist. He won.
    There are democrats who take bribes too, but 80% of the dark money goes to republicans.
    Money needs to be removed from politics. In reality, with internet, less is needed. But like McCain said, “You can not even consider yourself upper class unless you make 5 million a year.” Well, folks, we do not pay that sucker 5 million a year. Halliburton and other corporations do.
    So men like him will always push for wars. He is happy to walk on the coffins of our dead sons to get his 5 million a year.
    Truth is, no amount of money can make a man like that have any class at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RPManke.solar RevPhil Manke

    Their is an answer…….. Vote Green Party!! Can’t say it ehuff!

  • Anonymous

    Oh the poor starving children. If you don’t have a job, don’t have children. Right now we don’t have jobs in this country and we need to stop having so many children. If we can change the labor equation from oversupply to undersupply, we can start ensuring lower unemployment and better wages. Sadly, we have a glut of workers and as long as we have that, the corporations will take advantage and pay low wages and layoff workers.

  • johnnyomaha

    That about sums it up!

  • Carl Madrazo Jr

    This was about six after his brother, President John F Kennedy established the U.S. AID to help the poor in other countries….but back in the rural U.S.A. there was so much poverty as well.

  • Anonymous

    Supply and demand has nothing to do with low wages. Low wages parallel the decrease in unions, the the only method workers have to bargain for better wages. One worker has no influence on a corporation. Even when there is very little unemployment, you can always find someone who will take a lower wage. To get a competitive advantage, managers will cut costs through wages and safe working conditions along with other cost cutting measures. Better working conditions only come from people acting together through government or through unions.
    As proof I ask, when did WalMart ever pay higher wages?

  • Anthony Endres

    Strangely ENOUGH, all money spent in wars on something something, always increase that something-something in the U.S.A with an absolute predictable certainty only!

    So let’s declare WARS on excessive WEALTH and globally enduring PEACE for a change, hey?
    Reverse psychology is such a conservative American virtues lie, maybe it will work that way too, ha?!

  • onyxkitteh

    Yes. Actually, with all the bad press that the Catholic Church receives, and, yes, most of it is deserved, there are many, many people in the church who really make a difference helping others, especially, the poor. Most of them are just regular people, and some are in holy orders, such as the Marion Fathers. There are a lot of things that kids do to contribute to others. My kids did a lot of fund raising, made knitted goods, collected coats, shoes, blankets, and such as part of the Catholic Community. These days, counter to the usual stereotypes, the nuns are extraordinarily helpful, helping the poor and such. They try to teach the wealthier kids that they have an obligation to help. None of this is press worthy, because you aren’t supposed to boast about how much you do, as it is really part of your duty as a human being. Other churches probably do the same, but I don’t know about them.

  • Stefanie Krantz

    Thank you so very much. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I too have worked closely with the poor and yes, the toxic press has done it’s job, villifying hard working Americans. It is sickening and when I challenge the narrow minded to come work at my side to see for themselves, they are repulsed. I think the sheeple are fearful, (as well they should be), that there too go I. It can happen to anyone, anytime anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    Well said.

  • Anonymous

    Apparently Disqus agrees with you and my opinion should be stifled. Returned today to read replies and discovered I’ve been censored. I guess dissenting opinions aren’t welcome here. Too bad. I didn’t say, nor did I imply that the poor are undeserving of having children I said if you don’t have a job and can’t even support yourself, then you should consider not bringing other lives into the world who depend on you to take care of them. It seems like common sense to me. I have never been rich or privileged and CHOSE to bring one single life into the world because I knew that was all I would ever be able to take care of. Humans are taxing the resources of the planet at an astonishing rate and we all need to start thinking about slowing down population growth in general. I have never understood why it’s such a badge of honor to bring multiple lives into the world and struggle every day to feed, house, and clothe them then foist them into a world with no jobs and no prospects. As adults we need to think about the effects of all our choices and this is one that deserves a meaningful conversation.

  • Keith

    In those days most of the poor did not have jobs, these days almost all the people on assistance do work.

  • Dennis Hastings

    Even in 1967? 48 years ago?

  • Anonymous

    You DO know that most people HAVE jobs when starting a family…and those jobs can be lost by lay-off…offshoring etc….and people have jobs that pay less than the same job did 50 years ago ( true of min wage in my lifetime)…..

  • Anonymous

    The church I was brought up in, catholic, the church has told the desperately poor of the world to keep on making children, no birth control. Then the church told the people of AIDS ravaged Africa NOT to use a condom, even if one’s spouse HAS AIDS

  • Anonymous

    There was a KKK here in northern NH in the time of my grandfather, there were no blacks around here but lots of Irish and French Catholics. I was told by my uncle that the KKK burned a cross right across the street from an Irish catholic home.

  • Joyce

    Yes, and they also had jobs that paid in manufacturing UNTIL those jobs were deliberately sent OUT of the country and threw so many more into poverty. They replaced good paying jobs with low paying service jobs that one could NEVER own a home, rent a home, feed themselves or do anything on. Back in the 60’s, minimum wage USED to be raised to keep up with productivity…but not anymore…since trickle down economics too over. It did not cause inflation THEN. I see people every day who listen to FOX and all the propaganda stations out there…who actually BELIEVE that all our financial problems…are because of lazy poor people having babies and sitting around drinking and doing drugs. it gave an excuse to lot of heart hardened people NOT to care anymore because they don’t DESERVE to be cared about. Yes, there are people who take advantage of EVERY program. But do you cut very good people off disability through social security because a small percentage take advantage of it? What agony those people have to go through knowing they cant do ANYTHING to feed their families…no matter how hard they try. And they have no future to get our of poverty because NO ONE is bending down with REAL help. In fact, the laws they pass are putting more INTO poverty. The propaganda used was similar to the propaganda Hitler used against the Jews. Those German people were doing better…so they hardened their hearts to the plight of those poor Jews they were putting to death and stealing everything they had for themselves. Is that Christian thinking? I say it would be a different world…if those who CLAIM to be Christians…were REALLY putting it into practice. But no, they are like the ones who like to be seen…going to the Temple and praying in front of others but lack the charity and love of Christ needed in their hearts. Its not what one SAYS…but what ones DO that show what they are.

  • Joyce

    And those wars were UNfunded. And they came out of the surplus social security funds. Its time to pass a WAR tax and refund social security…not CUT it. They haven’t got EVERYONE fooled.

  • Joyce

    I advise everyone to watch the movie about the black man who was a butler in the White House for many years. True story. When he was a boy in the cotton fields of the south, a white man shot his dad right in front of him when the white boss wanted the boys mother for himself. His mother went insane from it. It covers civil rights. A good movie.

  • Joyce

    They are now making it even more difficult for people with disabilities to get funding out of social security. I have already heard of people having a hard time until they are approved NOW. Some democrats went along with republicons on this. Watch out of this new trade bill coming up. Obama is expected to push it. Its called the TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP. Out of 29 chapters, only 5 have to do with trade. They are setting up a small world tribunal…that has RIGHT over our own sovereign rights in this country. If a corporation thinks that anything made legal in the United States will lesson their FUTURE profits, they can OVERRIDE our own laws. What DOESNT effect future profits? If I don’t want a pipeline through my property…and they figure they can make more money by doing so…they can just override our laws. If they don’t think we should raise minimum wage…that it would cut into their profits…then they just override it. EVERYTHING in our lives…ESPECIALLY what we pay for goods…effects future profits. This is the nail in our coffins. We will have no soverign rights left but will be ruled by corporations.