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Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Dec 15, 2021

Main Street

How a City's Heart Connects Us All

New Village Press 2020

Mindy Thompson Fullilove traverses the central thoroughfares of our cities to uncover the ways they bring together our communities After an 11-year study of Main Streets in 178 cities and 14 countries, Fullilove discovered the power of city centers to “help us name and solve our problems.” In an era of compounding crises including racial injustice, climate change, and COVID-19, the ability to rely on the power of community is more important than ever. However, Fullilove describes how a pattern of disinvestment in inner-city neighborhoods has left Main Streets across the U.S. in disrepair, weakening our cities and leaving us vulnerable to catastrophe. In the face of urban renewal programs built in response to a supposed lack of “personal responsibility,” Fullilove offers “a different story, that of a series of forced displacements that had devastating effects on inner-city communities. Through that lens, we can appreciate the strength of segregated communities that managed to temper the ravages of racism through the Jim Crow era, and build political power and many kinds of wealth. . . . Only a very well-integrated, powerful community—one with deep spiritual principles—could have accomplished such a feat.” This is the power she hopes we will find again. 

Throughout Main Street: How a City's Heart Connects Us All (New Village Press, 2020), readers glimpse strong, vibrant communities who have conquered a variety of disasters, from the near loss of a beloved local business to the devastation of a hurricane. Using case studies to illustrate her findings, Fullilove turns our eyes to the cracks in city centers, the parts of the city that tend to be avoided or ignored. Providing a framework for those who wish to see their communities revitalized, Fullilove’s Main Street encourages us all to look both inward and outward to find the assets that already exist to create meaningful change.

See below for references mentioned in this episode:"A Score for Main Street" published by the University of Orange (twitter: @UofO_07050); A profile of photographer Wing Young Huie; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.

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Claire Clark

Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine.

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