In April 1967, Robert Kennedy and three other members of the Senate Subcommittee on Poverty traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, to hold hearings on the problems the poor in the South were having with a government food program that required them to purchase food stamps they could not afford. The Mississippi hearings, which were a follow-up to hearings held earlier in Washington, marked the start of a process that would change the way the nation's food stamp program was run.

Today, as recovery from Hurricane Katrina languishes, while the state and federal governments fingerpoint, Kennedy's actions in Mississippi offer us an important lesson about the capacity of a single politician, angry and determined, to change the way the poor are seen.


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