APRIL 10, 1967

Unita Blackwell, Fannie Lou Hamer and others testified about the immense poverty in the Mississippi Delta as Sen. Robert Kennedy and others listened at a Senate subcommittee hearing in Jackson. The next day, Kennedy and Sen. Joseph Clark from Pennsylvania toured the Delta with Marian Wright, seeing malnutrition they equated with Third World countries. The senators wrote a letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, describing what they found. The press covered the story, including The New York Times and Jet and Look magazines. 

“Congress talks of poverty and how it should be dealt with,” Daniel Schorr reported on the CBS Evening News, “but rarely does it go to look at it.” More congressional hearings resulted, and reforms followed. Ellen Meacham’s book, “Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi,” tells this story.

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Debbie is a veteran journalist, who worked over 30 years at the Clarion Ledger, first as a reporter and then as an editor overseeing breaking news, business and investigative projects. She left the CL as news director in 2018 to become managing editor of the nonprofit Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and joined Mississippi Today on Oct. 1, 2022, to become its first justice team editor.

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.