In This Issue
Vol. 2, No. 2, 1979, pp. 2
A few weeks ago I received a letter from Cheryl A. Swanson, a student in Massachusetts who had just finished reading Robert Coles’ book, Still Hungry in America. She wrote, “After seeing pictures of how some people live in this country, I felt very guilty. I was moved by their courage and would like to help them in some way. I admire what you are doing and would like to hear about any progress you have made since 1969.”
This issue of Southern Changes will be sent to Ms. Swanson because it portrays far better than my letter of reply that state of health of the South and especially poor Southerners. Although all the issues and developments in the last ten years aren’t given a forum here, the major themes represent the new energy, faith, and failures which have come along.
The past president of the Council Ray Wheeler, has lived with and treated the pain and hurt of poverty and hunger fo more than 30 years and in our Soapbox piece he presents a thoughtful perspective onthe threat of hunger and ill-health to all of us. Ray not only reminds us that there are reasons of self interest for everyone to address the problems of poverty and hunger but also insists that it is the only thing that people who care can do.
The same broad definition of health care be seen in the works of the Student Health Coalition in Alabama. As Harriet Swift sympathetically describes the people and scenes of a health fair in rural Black Belt Alabama, we are told how young students are trying to help imediately care for people’s needs while not forgetting apparently the larger, more important social forces that decide whether one lives or dies are not measured by EKGs.
Bob Powell and Marie Jemison also contribute to the theme of this issue in their pieces on public housiing and the race for a federal judgeship. Both suggest in their own way a bleak future for what only months ago was considered recent hopeful developments in the course of government affairs.
In “The Making of a Ghetto” Powell shows that shifting the poors’ housing from one area to another doesn’t remove the old forces of local politics and bureaucratic inability to give folks a decent chance to help themselves. Jemison provides us with a case study of how people are chosen — or not chosen — to site as the arbitrators of the major legal issues affecting the poor and all of us.
Two of our department pieces also touch upon issues affecting the life and eath of the poor: taxes and women on death row.
Overall, the October issue testifies to the spirit of Southerners continuing to probe for answers and improvements in the human condition. Like the whole of this issue, Cheryl Swanson’s letter means a great deal. It’s good to know that there are those who still care, searching to know and do more about very specific causes and conditions that plague life for many and threaten the body and soul of everyone.