Parnassus Books is delighted to welcome Ellen B. Meacham as she reads from and signs Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi.
In April 1967, a year before his run for president, Senator Robert F. Kennedy knelt in a crumbling shack in Mississippi trying to coax a response from a listless child. The toddler sat picking at dried rice and beans spilled over the dirt floor as Kennedy, former US attorney general and brother to a president, touched the boy's distended stomach and stroked his face and hair. After several minutes with little response, the senator walked out the back door, wiping away tears.
In Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi, Ellen B. Meacham tells the story of Kennedy's visit to the Delta, while also examining the forces of history, economics, and politics that shaped the lives of the children he met in Mississippi in 1967 and the decades that followed. The book includes thirty-seven powerful photographs, a dozen published here for the first time. Kennedy's visit to the Mississippi Delta as part of a Senate subcommittee investigation of poverty programs lasted only a few hours, but Kennedy, the people he encountered, Mississippi, and the nation felt the impact of that journey for much longer. His visit and its aftermath crystallized many of the domestic issues that later moved Kennedy toward his candidacy for the presidency. Upon his return to Washington, Kennedy immediately began seeking ways to help the children he met on his visit; however, his efforts were frustrated by institutional obstacles and blocked by powerful men who were indifferent and, at times, hostile to the plight of poor black children.
Sadly, we know what happened to Kennedy, but this book also introduces us to three of the children he met on his visit, including the baby on the floor, and finishes their stories. Kennedy talked about what he had seen in Mississippi for the remaining fourteen months of his life. His vision for America was shaped by the plight of the hungry children he encountered there.
Ellen B. Meacham is a Tennessee native, longtime resident of Mississippi, and a career journalist and journalism instructor at her alma mater, the University of Mississippi. She is the author of Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi and has been a working journalist for more than twenty years. She is a member of the faculty in the University of Mississippi's journalism school, where she teaches news reporting and editing. Meacham is uniquely positioned to write about the South and Mississippi. Her experience as a newspaper reporter has given her extensive contacts within the state's political and journalistic circles. In addition, her master's degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi undergirds her understanding the culture and the people of the Mississippi Delta. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today Online, The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee and The Advocate Baton Rouge. She lives outside of Oxford, Mississippi, with her family.