The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina

Stories from Our Invisible Citizens

By Gene R. Nichol

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 maps, 20 graphs, 2 tables, notes, index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4652-7
    Published: December 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4653-4
    Published: November 2018

Hardcover Available December 2018, but pre-order your copy today!

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These are the faces of poverty in North Carolina: scores of homeless men, women, and children take refuge in makeshift camps, barely hidden in the woods near some of our most affluent neighborhoods. Hundreds wait in lines hours long to receive basic health care at underfunded free clinics. In large cities and small towns, children--especially children of color--rely on meals at their schools to keep hunger at bay, while parents struggle in jobs that fail to pay living wages. While many in the Tar Heel State enjoy unparalleled prosperity, those born into poverty have lower odds than ever of climbing the ladder of economic upward mobility. Today, more than 1.5 million North Carolinians live in poverty. More than one in five are children. Behind these sobering statistics are the faces of our fellow citizens. This book tells their stories.

Since 2012, Gene R. Nichol has traveled the length of North Carolina, conducting hundreds of interviews with poor people and those working to alleviate the worst of their circumstances. Here their voices challenge all of us to see what is too often invisible, to look past partisan divides and preconceived notions, and to seek change. Only with a full commitment as a society, Nichol argues, will we succeed in truly ending poverty, which he calls our greatest challenge.

About the Author

Gene R. Nichol is the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information about Gene R. Nichol, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Gene Nichol's study of poverty in North Carolina should be done everywhere, with this book as the model. Its story is a troubling wake-up call that demands attention. Nichol shows how a perfect storm of state economic difficulties and a virulent slash of public benefits has been felt in every aspect of life: education, health, hunger, homelessness, and more. And the voices captured here reveal that racism means poor people of color are hit even harder than the population as a whole. You have to read this book."--Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law Center

"Nichol's book brilliantly exposes the human face of poverty in North Carolina and shows what a short and slippery slope it is from a manageable middle class existence into a life of tremendous hardship with all too few community or other support mechanisms that a caring society would ensure."--Philip G. Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, United Nations Human Rights Council

"The closest most North Carolinians get to those who are truly down and out is when they stop at an intersection waiting for the light to change. This book can help them 'see'--to make visible the disappeared."--Robert Korstad, author of To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America

"Through penetrating interviews and honest narrative, Gene Nichol personalizes poverty in North Carolina as few have previously done. The life stories chronicled here show persuasively that poverty cannot be understood by citing statistics. The book is a must read for all North Carolina policy makers."--Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Retired Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina