49:00 minutes (23.52 MB)
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If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility of the pursuit of happiness. He simply exists. - MLK
Fifteen year old Fausto Rivera made it to tenth grade without the ability to read or write in either English or Spanish. That was nearly 20 years ago.
University of Hartford Sociologist Timothy Black wondered how it could be that no one – not his parents, teachers, friends or social workers in Springfield, Massachusetts had taught the young man these key skills.
And, he wondered why anyone was surprised when young men like this fell into a life of prison and drugs. Questions like this led to a long relationship between Black and young men in Springfield’s Puerto Rican community. Black’s new book, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid, spans 18 years as he follows Fausto and his brothers through faltering education, prison, and social support systems. In the years spent with the boys – Black realized “they needed more than just an advocate or a mentor, they needed a social movement”. Coming up, we’ll talk to the author about his research, how he hopes it can change public policy, and the reality of life in the city.
*This program originally aired on October 1, 2009.