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Selected Articles

Southern neighborhoods have been named ‘plantations’ for decades. That could be changing.

In recent years, even as activists have decried Confederate monuments and flags, developers have continued using “plantation” in neighborhood names to evoke elegance. But now plantation place names and the word itself are under new scrutiny.

Washington Post,  June 30, 2020.

One Charlotte Woman’s Struggle With the ‘Getting Ahead’ Myth

For generations, economists, pundits, and holders of public office have told the poor that pulling themselves out of poverty was just a matter of acquiring the right skills, making the right choices, and having the right attitude. In a city where getting ahead is practically a religion, Cheryl Potts has done a lot right—and she hasn’t gotten far.

Charlotte Magazine,  March 25, 2020.

From Brooklyn to Ballantyne: The Story Behind Charlotte's Affordable Housing Crisis

Charlotte’s history of affordable housing includes broken promises and empty gestures. Now that the city’s chronic shortage has become a crisis, leaders are responding with unprecedented resources. Will this time be different?

Charlotte Journalism Collaborative,  June 16, 2019.

Finding Home: The Fight To Save Smithville


Residents of Cornelius’s Smithville neighborhood have endured segregation, sewage problems, civic neglect. Last year, when the state proposed a road through part of their community, few people – not even Smithville residents – would have predicted what would happen next.

WFAE, February 24, 2019.

Why Charlotte (and Only Charlotte) Wants the 2020 RNC


A willingness to host such a big but unwanted event speaks to the ambition and insecurity that has long characterized North Carolina’s largest city.

CityLab, July 26, 2018.

A Revolution Is Happening in Davidson


Growth and political tension prompt residents to ask if the town needs saving.

Charlotte Magazine, June 21, 2018.

Old Anger and a Lost Neighborhood in Charlotte


The demise of Brooklyn—one of the nation’s oldest black neighborhoods before urban renewal—sheds light on the forces that have led to today’s city-wide anger. This article was written following Keith Lamont Scott's shooting death. 

CityLab, Oct. 11, 2016.

White people in Biddleville: The story of a changing neighborhood

A new desire for urban living is transforming Biddleville, Charlotte's oldest African-American neighborhood. Amid revitalization, there's worry that residents will be displaced and history lost. Gentrification has accelerated since this was published.

Charlotte Observer, March 18, 2016

Small pigs, fried Oreos, a sprawl of humanity

An exploration of globalism at the Barnyard Flea Market.

Charlotte Observer, June 27, 2014.

Mr. Merritt's Class


For the 2005-06 school year, Pam Kelley followed teacher Jeremiah Merritt and his fifth-graders in one of Charlotte's highest-poverty schools. The series won a first place in the national Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards. This link includes a selection of stories.

Charlotte Observer,  2005 - 2006

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