Rosa Lee : a mother and her family in urban America



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on back endpaper: I and N.Y. Ave, N.E., 14 and W. Clift--Clifton St btw 13th and 14th N.W. Terrace 1308, 1312, 1350. Underlinings/Notes: Underlinings: Lamb's underlinings include more details than the notes, and underscore the emotions, actions, confusion and concerns of the family covered in the book, and the author's frustration with their circumstances. Notes: "Rosa Lee at her apartment," "heroin," "shared needles," "Manhattan high school," "13 pregnant," "11 year old granddaughter," "heroin $40 a billy," "Mamma Rose, Darrold, a billy-$40, Maserati, jumpouts," "Patty sleeps and Rosa goes to church," "all five are addicted," "I will not give them cash," "electricity 4 months," "145 lbs 5'1"," "Medicaid ID," "welfare check," "AIDs. . .all are positive," "prison," "food stamps," "the lawyer, shoplifting," "Bobby's jaw broken," "visits Bobby in prison," "Bobby, five year old niece [. . .]matted hair," "seizures, oil joint," "granddaughter to ferry heroin," "Xmas eve," "Ducky/Rosa Lee look at sweaters he stole; Patty's on the phone," "11 yr. old grandson steals coat," "taught shoplift to her family," "8 prison terms," "homey look," "jail," "Rose lies," "11 children," "1 mile from Capitol," "stealing," "lighter brown skin," "stolen clothes and church," "common harsh upbringing in South," "mother's beatings," "father," "1st arrest," "stolen scarf for mother," "front teeth knocked out," "29 in 1965," "fur coat," "prison a vacation," "welfare checks," "8 kids in one room," "MLK looting," "sister dies of cancer," "steals bread," "I'm angry," "she says she's going to stop taking her children shoplifting," "Rosetta Wright, Lugenia Lawrence," "can't read," "Richard," "Richard stealing telephones at Howard," "pills," "illiterate," "Clark-Lewis," "share croppers," "moonshine," "DC," "domestics," "segregated schools of the South," "slow learners," "visit Giddings," "left school 7th grade," "pregnant at 15," "welfare check," "no mother love," "public housing," "taking income from his mother," "phone bill," "$437 SSI," "calls from girls down the hall," "Patty smokes crack; Ducky watches," "waiting for government checks," "Patty pays for crack," "the clinic," "meth line," "free van service," "Darvon, Xanax, Medicaid patient," "me, driver, translator, confident," "cash job," "heroin," "1961 8 children," "1967 Ronnie," "1969 police raids," "Lucky lesbian," "Bobby gay," "crossing guard," "Moose," "after 19 years heroin," "1975 daily heroin use," "1st bust," "speedball, a bomb," "arrested 6 times for shoplifting," "neck hit, 1 arm Diane," "operation, in hospital for 6 months," "$50 check," "I'm angry," "me extra strength pain reliever," "sold food for crack," "Richard and Bobby in D.C. jail 1991," "Bobby raped," "6 sons, 2 daughters fathered by 5 men," "prostitution," "Bobby and the Jobs Corps," "Vietnam," "mid80s," "difficult outside of prison," "AIDs no condoms," "Killer," "Ronnie's father wanted $50 for a billy of heroin," "Aunt Chubby's tricks," "Richard 18, father of six," "trapped by drugs," "Loveboat," "Ducky," "Alvin," "Eric," "Eric and Alvin didn't want to be interviewed," "don't borrow anything," "welfare truck," "Jone'in," "only three can read," "1968, a teacher," "1969 Bobby invited Alvin to burgle," "Alvin has child," "teacher Hank Wilson," "social worker," "1970 Eric at 14 a father," "Job Corps," "Eric, National Park Service," "mentors," "Eric spots Rosa Lee in jail," "Rosa Lee and Patty," "Patty's 34," "pregnant at 14," "Patty's sex with a relative," "Rosa Lee had sex with Patty in the same bed," "Rosa Lee customers wanted sex with 11 yr. old Patty," "Patty had sex at 11 with a 40 year old," "a 33 yr. old relative," "Friday's dress at school," "Patty at 16," "13 convictions," "Lucien Perkins," "Junior at Washington Highlands," "Junior never used drugs," "cool pose," "Boyz n the Hood," "60% of blacks come from fatherless homes," "Patty's rape," "arrested 6 times," "Junior goes to receiving home," "Pittsburgh," "Vision Quest," "1st time in jail," "a letter home," "1994 Junior arrested again," "Rosa Lee Chapel Hill, Baptist Church, Rich Square, N.C.," "Patty murder," "doesn't vote," "whites raped black women," "the trial, Patty and Turk, the charges," "trip to Rich Square," "Husband murdered, Albert," "widow's benefits," "$513 monthly income," "picked cotton," "know I have an older sister?" "Rosetta dies in 1979, 22 children," "race relations," "Bobby leaves jail, dies Jan. 18, 1994," "great grandson," "my father, my mother," "education is the answer," "underclass 2.7 million," "ages 8 and 9," "foster care," "interviewed other families," "during series called Rosa Lee every day," "personal advice," "calls me at house," "Reco and drug dealing," "How Reco died," "Bobby died at 43, Reco's funeral," "Rosa Lee to hospital," "Pulitzer," ICU," "July 7, Rosa L dies," "Patty and Junior/mother and son in jail," "Alvin, Eric," "underclass," "Myrdal," "research began 1987."


Dash, Leon, “Rosa Lee : a mother and her family in urban America,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 3, 2022,


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Rosa Lee : a mother and her family in urban America


Dash, Leon


Program air date: November 10, 1996


For four years, reporter Leon Dash followed the lives of Rosa Lee Cunningham, her eight children, and five of her grandchildren, in an effort to capture the stark reality of life in the growing black underclass. As a black journalist troubled by the crisis in urban America, he wanted readers to share his discomfort and alarm. Dash's reports in the Washington Post touched a powerful nerve - 4,600 readers called the paper in response - and received critical acclaim as.well, winning both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. (The Kennedy prize board called his series a "tour de force" that "sets the standard for reporting about poverty.") Dash continued reporting even after his articles were published, and in this book he provides the complete, unvarnished family portrait. But Leon Dash does more than simply report facts; he becomes an integral part of Rosa Lee's daily life, driving her to the methadone clinic,helping her read her mail, visiting her in the hospital. While maintaining his journalistic distance - he never lends her money or intervenes with the city bureaucracy - Dash can't help forging a powerful bond with Rosa Lee. Once, after uncharacteristically losing his temper, Dash offers an apology, which she waves aside. "That lets me know that you're really concerned about me," she says. "That means a lot to a woman like me, who has been used and misused. People don't.give a damn about me!" Rosa Lee's life story challenges the pieties of left and right: she has made choices that were often unwise and has paid the price for her actions, but through it all she cares about doing the right thing, even if she cannot always find the inner strength to do so. When she agreed to let Dash chronicle her life, she said simply, "Maybe I can help somebody not follow in my footsteps." Those who read this poignant and provocative portrait will find.that Rosa Lee's voice is one than cannot be ignored, and through her experiences we see the magnitude of the problems facing urban America today.


"Cunningham, Rosa Lee, 1936-"
"African American women--Social conditions--Case studies."
"Poor--Washington (D.C.)--Social conditions."
"Women drug addicts--Washington (D.C.)"
"African American women--Drug use--Washington (D.C.)"


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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1st ed.