Home » NEWS » Economy » Children’s advocate to revisit poverty in Mississippi Delta

Children’s advocate to revisit poverty in Mississippi Delta

The founder of a children’s advocacy group returns to Mississippi next week to examine how poverty affects people’s lives, much like Sen. Robert F. Kennedy did 50 years ago.

Marian Wright was a civil rights attorney working in Mississippi in 1967 when she recommended that U.S. senators travel to the state to see for themselves the living conditions of some of the poorest people in the nation.

Kennedy, a Democrat from New York, was moved to tears in the Mississippi Delta by talking to people who lived in shacks and children with stomachs distended from hunger. At one home, reports said a family had only a jar of peanut butter in the refrigerator. Kennedy was assassinated just over a year later, in California, as he ran for president.

Wright accompanied Kennedy on the tour and met one of the senator’s aides, Peter Edelman, during the trip. She and Edelman married in 1968, and she moved to Washington to continue her advocacy work for the poor. Marian Wright Edelman founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973 and remains president of the group that pushes for public policies to help children living in poverty.

Organizers of her trip say Edelman will travel Wednesday to three small communities in what remain some of the poorest parts the rural Delta — Glendora, Jonestown and Marks — to examine food insecurity, health and poverty.

In April 1967, after a hearing in Jackson, Kennedy went to the Delta communities of Greenville, Mound Bayou and Clarksdale.

Edelman will be accompanied by other children’s advocates: Dr. Robert Smith, a physician who has been active in the Mississippi civil rights movement; a representative of a farm workers’ organization; Democratic former state Rep. Robert Clark of Ebenezer, who in 1967 became the first African-American since Reconstruction to win a seat in the Mississippi House; and his son and successor in the House, Democratic Rep. Bryant Clark of Pickens. Also joining Edelman on the tour will be Curtis Wilkie, a longtime journalist who covered Kennedy’s 1967 trip to Mississippi.

“We will witness and hear firsthand the progress made in the past 50 years,” Edelman said in a statement. “I’m also very interested in hearing about the challenges families have, and the resources they would need to work their way out of poverty.”

Census figures show that in 1960, the poverty rate was 22.1 percent in the United States and 54.5 percent in Mississippi. In 2010, the rate was 14.9 percent in the U.S. and 22.3 percent in Mississippi. Some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the state are still in the Delta, where the economy depends heavily on agriculture — cotton, soybeans and catfish.

Edelman, a friend and political mentor to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said she is concerned about proposed changes that might affect health care and “safety net programs woven into the fabric of life in low-wealth, rural communities.”

BEFORE YOU GO…

… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Associated Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*