The line of big cars pulled up outside the one-room schoolhouse, which had a potbelly stove for heat and an outhouse in back. The senator burst in the door, followed by a pack of politicians, aides and journalists.
Robert F. Kennedy had come to learn about rural poverty. Instead, his arrival petrified the students, who sat riveted to their ancient desks with their heads down, afraid to even look at the great man and his entourage.
He sized up the problem. Instead of making a speech for the media, Kennedy moved quietly among the students, stopping to reassure them. He’d squeeze a hand, murmur in an ear. “What did you have to eat today?’’ he asked one girl. “I know you’re scared,’’ he told a boy, “but It’s gonna be all right.’’