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Through two award-winning National Public Radio documentaries, and now this powerful book, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman have made it their mission to be loud voices from one of this country's darkest places, Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project. Set against the stunning photographs of a talented young photographer from the projects, Our America evokes the unforgiving world of these two amazing young men, and their struggle to survive unrelenting tragedy. With a gift for clear-eyed journalism, they tell their own stories and others, including that of the death of Eric Morse, a five-year-old who was dropped to his death from the fourteenth floor of an Ida B. Wells apartment building by two other little boys.
Sometimes funny, often painful, but always charged with their dream of Our America, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman reach out to grab your attention and break your heart. This heartbreaking and inspiring book goes a long way toward fulfilling the wish one of its authors, LeAlan Jones, makes in his epigraph: "You must learn our America as we must learn your America, so that, maybe, someday, we can become one." Based on hours and hours of taped interviews that Jones and Lloyd Newman, two high school students, conducted for two National Public Radio documentaries they prepared in 1993 and 1995, Our America is a no-holds-barred look at the devastatingly poor Chicago neighborhood in which they live. It's a world where elementary school students learn about sex and drugs before they learn how to read, and where many boys do not expect to live to be 20. You finish the book marveling not that so many of those who people it are trapped, but wondering that anyone survives at all.