The American Underclass

Destitute and desperate in the land of plenty

"Pretty soon the lights won't have to go out for trouble to start. "

—Cherry Crist, Miami welfare mother of six

"If the cities erupt again, we will find no safe place on either side of the barricades."

—James W. Compton, Chicago

Urban League director

The barricades are seen only fleetingly by most middle-class Americans as they rush by in their cars or commuter trains—doors locked, windows closed, moving fast. But out there is a different world, a place of pock-marked streets, gutted tenements and broken...

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