6. Conclusions

In the end, Kennedy never had the opportunity to try and relieve the poverty within region; unfortunately he was shot and killed after winning the California primary election. No one can definitively say the amount of success Kennedy could have had with helping the people of Eastern Kentucky. After Kennedy’s death, the sense of hope they had expected to receive was lost…and 42 years later the region is still in bad, if not worse, condition than when Kennedy visited (Eller 233). In an attempt to change this there was an reenactment tour in 2004 of Kennedy’s 1968 visit (RFK in EKY: Performance Project). This project brought back the notion of “hope” into the region. Some thought that this type of publicity would generate the urgency to tackle the problem of poverty in Eastern Kentucky.   However, little progress has been made in the region since the reenactment. Kentucky is  still one of the highest ranked states in which the majority of its counties are in extreme distress. Kennedy wanted to see the political, social, and economic structures change in the impoverished areas or he believed that nothing would ever change. In order for these structures to change he advocated for “community action” in which the poor would lead the antipoverty movements within their communities. He believed they would receive the money from the federal government and that the poor would then decide how that money should be spent. This type of program would have prevented as much corruption in the region, and then the people would be happier. Kennedy’s motto was”don’t help the poor, let the poor help themselves with the government supporting them (Eller 115).” Therefore, I believe, Kennedy traveled to Eastern Kentucky for the genuine concern of its residence, to evaluate the effectiveness of the War on Poverty, to show the horrors of the region (such as strip mining), and to gain support for the upcoming election; it was mutually benefiting to Kennedy and the residents of Kentucky.


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