Race, Class, and Violence in America: Building Coalitions for Change

Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Race, Class, and Violence in America: Building Coalitions for Change
Stern Center, Great Room 7:00 P.M.

Race Poster
Issue in Context
Between 1973 and 1994, the poverty rate for children in young families has doubled. Meanwhile, violent crime committed by youths has increased more than 78% in the past six years. According to statistics, shortly after the year 2050, the white majority in America will dissipate. This information is used on hate websites to negatively influence and scare young people into believing America is not the country it once was. It is clear that coalition building is more important than ever if the current younger generation is to have any hope for a successful future.

Thirty years ago, white residents of a Boston neighborhood, known as Southi, pelted school buses carrying black students with rocks and tomatoes. This area of south Boston had the highest concentration of impoverished whites in America in the 1970’s; Southie also represented the face of racism in the northeast. Mob murders, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and frequent funerals for young people were rampant. Few insiders then or now have spoken out about this aspect of Boston.

Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in Southie and witnessed the horrific events that unfolded on the nightly news. His book, All Souls: A Family History from Southie , describes the racist violence that came out of Southie and hostility toward the police for protecting the school buses. He also reveals the joys, trials, and tribulations he faced as a kid on the streets. In recent years, MacDonald has returned to his old neighborhood to get people to talk about what happened, and to build coalitions in order to create hope for a better future.

About the Speaker
Michael Patrick MacDonald is the author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, which won an American Book Award and a New England Literary Lights Award. The book has been selected for a film adaptation and Michael is writing the screenplay for Director Ron Shelton. He is also currently working on his second book to be published by Houghton Mifflin the fall of 2006.

While All Souls dealt with his family struggles in South Boston Old Colony Housing Projects, and the bigger issue of race and class in America, his current work focuses on the struggles teens face with post traumatic stress from violence and death, and will address ideas around teen depression and the mass medicating of young people. Michael is a long time Boston activist and writer who, from 1990 through 1998, focused on coalition building to reduce violence in Boston. He is a co-founder of Boston’s city-wide gun buyback program, and is the founder of the South Boston Vigil Group, which functioned to give a voice to that neighborhood’s survivors of violence and the drug trade.

Michael has been awarded the Anne Cox Chambers Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, a Bellagio Center Fellowship through the Rockefeller Foundation, and residencies at Djerassi and Blue Mountain Center.

He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and writes full time.

Related Links
• Interview With Michael Patrick MacDonald About All Souls
• A Generation Under Siege