Click here for “Battle Hymns of the Old South,” The Baffler, March 2021.
Click here for “The Soul of Community,” Craftsmanship Quarterly, Fall 2018.
Anthropologists and other scholars are delving into the plight of urban communities where people struggle to meet their nutritional needs. In the process, these researchers are discovering the power, and limits, of self-reliance. Originally published in Sapiens and reprinted in Civil Eats. EVEN BEFORE ASHANTÉ REESE AND I REACH THE FRONT GATE, retired schoolteacher Alice […]
On the challenges of governing a bright-blue city in the middle of a hot-red state. Originally published in The Nation. LAST DECEMBER, AFTER HE WAS SWORN IN as mayor of Durham, North Carolina, Steve Schewel laid down his vision for a city where elected officials work alongside residents to resist regressive state and federal policy. […]
“Packing” and “cracking” voters boosted the GOP and muted urban voices. Now federal judges have struck down the latest redistricting plan. Originally published in CityLab. WHEN NORTH CAROLINA’S LEGISLATIVE LEADERS WERE ORDERED to redraw the state’s 13 congressional districts in 2016, they gave their hired mapmaker an explicit instruction: Maximize the Republican Party’s electoral advantage. […]
Originally published in Parade. THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20TH century was not kind to America’s Main Streets. Once the hearts of our towns and small cities, many fell victim to the appeal of suburbia. We found what we needed along the edges: quiet cul-de-sacs, indoor malls, the convenience of big-box stores. Mail-order catalogs and […]
Neighborhood groups are bringing the blighted city back, one block at a time. Will City Hall stand in their way? Originally published in The American Prospect. A SHIVERING KNOT OF COLLEGE STUDENTS stands outside Motor City Java House as John George unlocks the front door. It’s 15 degrees in Detroit on a February morning, and […]
Can academic rigor, firm discipline, and a daily dose of religion turn boys from poor families into scholars? An intimate look at one such attempt. Originally published in Duke Magazine. AS AN AUGUST DRIZZLE falls outside, thirty-one middle-schoolers sit at long tables in a North Carolina mountain lodge. It’s the end of summer vacation: Next week […]
A city’s quest for renewal can mean the death of an old neighborhood. Originally published in AARP The Magazine. WILHELMINA DREY HAS LIVED HER ENTIRE 87 YEARS in a blue sea captain’s house near the banks of Connecticut’s Thames River. From the ground floor, her family ran a grocery where the neighborhood’s Italian women congregated Saturday mornings, […]
Corrections Corporation of America is trying to turn Youngstown, Ohio, into the private-prison capital of the world. Originally published in Mother Jones. Reprinted in The Best Business Stories of the Year, edited by Andrew Leckey and Marshall Loeb (Vintage Books, 2001). BOB HAGAN WAS READING HIS E-MAIL one July afternoon when the telephone rang at his home in Youngstown, […]