Roger Wilkins, who died on March 26, was a distinguished civil rights leader, professor of history, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
In his capacity as Director of the Community Relations Service in the Johnson administration, he was the president’s key liaison to the Poor People’s Campaign, launched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Discussions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) led to more money for free and reduced-price lunches for school children and Head Start programs in Mississippi and Alabama. USDA released surplus commodities to the nation’s 1,000 poorest counties, which expanded the Food Stamp Program.
Roger Wilkins continued to advocate on behalf of civil rights, anti-poverty, and anti-hunger efforts throughout his long career. In 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, the airing of the landmark CBS documentary, “Hunger in America,” and other key developments in the anti-hunger movement, Roger Wilkins participated in a panel discussion at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) Annual Benefit Dinner, along with Senator George McGovern and veteran broadcaster Daniel Schorr.
For more background on the period and Wilkins’ career, read “A Decade that Changed History: 1967-1977” from the dinner program that night.
FRAC mourns the death of Roger Wilkins, who was such a great leader, thinker, and advocate.