Monthly Archives: August 2013

“For the Public Good”


About a year ago I met Willis Lynch (pictured above), an incredible mechanic, handyman, musician, and country music fan who also happens to be one of my state’s most outspoken advocates for compensation for eugenics-based sterilization. Mr. Lynch was sterilized by the state of North Carolina at age 14, more than 65 years ago, and has spent the past few years waiting for the state to make things right. Not right–nothing, he says, can make up for what happened to him–but Lynch and those in his fight hoped for meaningful acknowledgement of the wrongs they suffered.

I wrote about Mr. Lynch and two other survivors of North Carolina’s former eugenics program in a new, long piece called “For the Public Good,” which has just been published by The New New South. Founded by writer and editor Andrew Park, The New New South publishes longform multimedia journalism from below the Mason-Dixon, and I’m proud to be the first of their published authors. It was also gratifying to be able to give a complicated story the attention it deserves–with Andrew as my editor, I was able to explore not only the personal stories of the survivors, but also the history of American eugenics programs, the long fight for compensation in North Carolina, the issue of transitional justice, and the phenomenon of post-traumatic growth.

You can read a short excerpt of “For the Public Good” in Salon, then download it on Amazon (it will eventually be available on the Nook, Kobo, and iPad). The price, $2.99, supports an important platform for innovative, in-depth journalism (and yours truly).

Or, if you’re a Longreads member (and you should be!), you can read “For the Public Good” by clicking here.

I’m sorry for my lack of posting this past year, but productivity required some time away from things like blogging and social media. I have much more to share with you soon–stay tuned.


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