Feb 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former Rep. Joe Kennedy joins anti-poverty initiative

Joe Kennedy III speaks onstage during the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala & Auction In NYC in New York City.
Joe Kennedy III. Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Former Rep. Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, is joining the Poor People's Campaign and will push the Biden administration to focus on anti-poverty efforts.

Why it matters: The grandnephew of President John F. Kennedy is looking to remain in the public eye on matters important to him after he recently lost his bid for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

  • The Poor People’s Campaign, co-chaired by the Rev. William Barber II, is modeled after MLK's 1968 Poor People's March and seeks to organize low-income Black, white, Asian American, Latino, and Native American residents.
  • Kennedy will serve as a special adviser to the campaign. He also just launched a new Democratic political action committee and recently signed a commentator contract with CNN.

Flashback: Robert Kennedy, as a U.S. senator, embarked on a poverty tour between 1967 to 1968 to visit some of the poorest communities in the United States in a runup to his presidential campaign.

  • The senator visited parts of Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, Central California, and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
  • Kennedy had been haunted by his brother's notes in his last Cabinet meeting. President Kennedy had written the word "poverty" and circled it before his assassination.

What they're saying: "I'm proud of the work my grandfather did with many of you," the younger Kennedy told the Poor People’s Campaign during a virtual meeting.

  • Kennedy vowed to push for a $15 minimum wage and fair policies for low-income residents.

Between the lines: Since losing his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Kennedy has held a series of meeting with advisers and friends on what he should do next.

  • Many of his closest aides had urged him to join anti-poverty efforts as the nation struggles with COVID-19.
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