Central City's Joy and Pain

Solidarity, Survival, and Soul in a Birmingham Housing Project

Title Details

Pages: 264

Illustrations: 21 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6575-6

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 01/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6574-9

List Price: $114.95

Central City's Joy and Pain

Solidarity, Survival, and Soul in a Birmingham Housing Project

Social science through the lens of personal stories and scholarly research

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  • Description
  • Reviews

With Central City’s Joy and Pain, Jerome E. Morris explores complex social issues through personal narrative. He does so by blending social-science research with his own memoir of life in Birmingham, Alabama. As someone who lived in the Central City housing project for two transitional decades (1968–91) and whose family continued to reside there until 1999, when the city razed the community, the author provides us with the often unexplored bottom-up perspective on Black public-housing residents’ experiences.

As Morris’s experiential and authoritative narrative voice unfolds in the pages of Central City’s Joy and Pain, both the scholarly and lay reader are brought on a journey of what life is like for people who live and die at the intersection of race and poverty in a rapidly evolving southern urban center. The setting of a historic public-housing community provides a rich canvas on which to paint a world through the author’s personal experience of growing up there—and his later observations as a researcher and academic.

Through its syncopation of personal stories and scholarly research, Central City's Joy and Pain captures what it means to be Black, poor, and full of dreams. In this setting, dreams are realized by some and swallowed up for others in the larger historical, social, economic, and political context of African Americans' experiences during and after the civil rights movement.

Jerome E. Morris's voice is at once beautiful and inspiring, one from the scholar-activist tradition of Black America. This work powerfully illustrates how Black People—even as we have been consigned to and ghettoized in indecent 'public housing'—found ways to survive oppressive, systemic racism and poverty—and, in the case of Dr. Morris, even carve out a pathway to a decent life. Central City’s Joy and Pain reminds us, however, of the need for revolutionary change, toward the freedom of all oppressed people.

—Elaine Brown, author of A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B; former leader of the Black Panther Party

Morris provides readers with a powerful historical and personal journey through Central City that is captivating reading. He does a phenomenal job of not only highlighting the depths of structural racism and the accumulation of disadvantage but also of documenting the sheer will, determination, strength, and resolve of a people to survive and thrive. Central City's Joy and Pain is a page turner that is informative and inspiring.

—Tyrone C. Howard, Professor of Education and Pritzker Family Endowed Chair, University of California, Los Angeles

Central City’s Joy and Pain is not just a story about events that took place several decades ago but is also well connected to the systems that remain in place for the perpetuation of Black oppression. Jerome E. Morris has done a great job of sharing his experiences with the broader community, and readers—in not only Birmingham and the South, but well beyond—will be enriched by the experiences and insights conveyed here.

—Charles Connerly, professor emeritus of urban and regional planning, University of Iowa

About the Author/Editor

JEROME E. MORRIS is the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Urban Education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He is the author of Troubling the Waters: Fulfilling the Promise of Quality Public Schooling for Black Children. An award-winning researcher, Morris has published extensively in leading research journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Educational Researcher, Review of Research in Education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Educational Policy, Urban Education, and Kappan.