Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America

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9780465070923: Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America

Based on a heart-rending and much discussed series in the Washington Post, this is the story of one woman and her family living in the projects in Washington, D.C. A transcendent piece of writing, it won the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.For four years Leon Dash of the Washington Post followed the lives of Rosa Lee Cunningham, her children, and five of her grandchildren, in an effort to understand the persistence of poverty and pathology within America’s black underclass. Rosa Lee’s life story spans a half century of hardship in the slums and housing projects of Southeast Washington, a stone’s throw from the marble halls and civic monuments of the world’s most prosperous nation. Yet for all of America’s efforts, Rosa Lee and millions like her remain trapped in a cycle of poverty characterized by illiteracy, teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violent crime.Dash brings us into her life and the lives of her family members offering a human drama that statistics can only refer to. He also shows how some people including two of Rosa Lee’s children have made it out of the ghetto, breaking the cycle to lead stable middle-class lives in the mainstream of American society.

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Review:

Drug-addled, welfare-using and AIDS-infected, Rosa Lee--a black woman living in the slums of Washington, D.C.--shines an enormous amount of light on the seemingly intractable problems of the underclass by allowing Leon Dash to tell her story. You won't find any diagrams or number-crunching in this book, just an absorbing tale of inner-city despair. Dash won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles on Rosa Lee for the Washington Post. The book is even better--easily the best of its type since Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here.

About the Author:

Leon Dash won the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for the series of articles upon which Rosa Lee is based. A staff reporter for the investigative and special projects department of The Washington Post, he is also the author of When Children Want Children (Penguin), and lives in Mt. Rainier, Maryland.

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Leon Dash
Published by Basic Books (1996)
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