Barry Yeoman

Barry Yeoman is a writer and radio documentarian based in Durham, North Carolina. He contributes to On Earth, The Saturday Evening Post, Audubon, and Parade. Follow him @Barry_Yeoman

Recent Articles

Moral Monday Movement Gears Up for Round Two

2013 ©Jenny Warburg
©Jenny Warburg Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP, leads a Moral Monday protest in Raleigh, N.C., in 2013. This article has been corrected. O n Wednesday afternoon, the North Carolina legislature will open its 2014 session. It will be hard for the Republican majority to top last year’s performance, which shattered the final vestiges of the state’s 50-year reputation for moderate governance. With the help of newly elected GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, lawmakers in 2013 slashed both public education and unemployment benefits. They rejected an expansion of Medicaid, paid for almost entirely by the federal government, that would have covered at least 300,000 low-income North Carolinians. They cut corporate taxes and eliminated the earned-income credit for low-wage workers. And they rewrote the state’s election laws in a way that will make registration and voting harder, particularly for African-American, blue-collar, and younger voters. They might have...

A Mighty Shout in North Carolina

Jenny Warburg
*/ Jenny Warburg G eoffrey Zeger didn’t attend last year’s Moral Mondays, the series of civil-disobedience events at which more than 900 people were arrested at the North Carolina legislature. The weekday occupations, coordinated by the North Carolina NAACP to protest the state’s sharp-right policy turn, conflicted with Zeger’s work schedule. But when he learned that tens of thousands of demonstrators planned to descend on Raleigh last weekend, the private-practice social worker from Durham couldn’t stay away. “Every day I work with people whose unemployment benefits have been cut, and who are trying to get food stamps,” he told me at Saturday’s Moral March on Raleigh. “And a mother who’s working three and four jobs, and who has her children being watched by their grandparents. And they’re struggling. Ten hours a day, I’m working with people who are affected by a GOP legislature.” Zeger’s clients battle anxiety and depression, he says, as their family budgets grow ever more precarious...

The Shale Rebellion

In Pennsylvania, a band of unlikely activists fights the fracking boom.

Six months before she helped organize the protest known as Hands Across Riverdale, the word “fracking” didn’t mean much to Deb Eck. “Not a damn thing,” says the 52-year-old dollar-store manager. A single mother of twins, she was putting in crushing hours to provide a decent life for her daughters, who are now 12. On good days, she arrived home from work in time to help the girls with their schoolwork, tuck them into bed, and spend the rest of the night cooking and cleaning. There was no time to read about the natural-gas boom unfolding in her backyard.

Town and Country

On North Carolina’s Amendment One, the fault line was not racial—it was urban-rural.

(Flickr/mediacutts)
In the week since North Carolina voters adopted a constitutional amendment banning recognition of any "domestic legal union" other than heterosexual marriage, a consensus has formed among journalists about African-American complicity. According to this narrative, black voters let their Protestant traditionalism trump any sense of fairness toward lesbians and gay men—and became the critical voting bloc that gave Amendment 1 its landslide victory. Although the language has been cool this time around, it nonetheless has echoes of the widespread vilification of black voters after California passed the similar Proposition 8 in 2008. "Citing deeply held religious objections to homosexuality, African-Americans, many of whom are evangelical Christians, have consistently voted for state bans on gay marriage, most recently in North Carolina," reported NPR . The Charlotte Observer declared that "many conservatives and African-Americans set political differences aside to vote along spiritual...

The Death and Life of Detroit

Neighborhood groups are bringing the blighted city back, one block at a time. Will City Hall stand in their way?

(Flickr/Sascha Frank)
A shivering knot of college students stands outside Motor City Java House as John George unlocks the front door. It’s 15 degrees in Detroit on a February morning, and fresh snow covers the Old Redford business district. Cold weather doesn’t stanch the flow of volunteers coming to the city’s northwest corner: They show up every Saturday, arriving in shifts, ready to swing sledgehammers and twist crowbars. George’s wife, Alicia Marion, has learned to expect this traffic since she opened the coffeehouse in 2010. She puts on an apron and starts brewing. George is a brash, baseball cap–wearing jokester of a man, single-minded in his mission and impatient with bureaucracies. He runs a nonprofit called Motor City Blight Busters, which both demolishes and rehabilitates abandoned houses and has helped stage the comeback of this commercial strip. He was born a mile away in Brightmoor, the adjacent neighborhood of single-family houses built for the workers arriving en masse in the 1920s. At 53,...

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