John Vachon/Library of Congress

River Rouge Plant of Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., August 1941.

Profiles: Paul Ingram

Saturday, December 24th, 2011 

Born 1933

Basically the situation with blacks, particularly in this society, always had stumbling blocks. Jobs were difficult to get except Detroit was a little unique because you had the automobile industry, and they had a lot of manual labor, and you didn’t need a lot of education. The African-Americans would end up working in the foundry, the dangerous jobs. 

It was hard. It was difficult. But people, they grew things in their backyard. We had a grapevine; they had a pear tree. People weren’t so concerned as much about how their grass looked as much as how their greens looked.  All the food you’ve learned to see your grandmother cook, that was all that was left for our ancestors, and they learned to take their food and transfer it into a decent meal. As a kid growing up, she would take neck bones and boil them in a pot. Get potatoes and boil them, get some celery and make a gravy and eat it with biscuits. The nickname was puzzle bones because you had to reach all in and tear them apart to find the meat.

Parents would feed their kids all kinds of stuff to make them chubby, as a sign that they were eating.

Interview by Michael Lawson

Paul Ingram died June 9, 2012, while vacationing in Jamaica. He was 78 years old. 

What Went Wrong

Donald Barlett and James Steele are revisiting America: What Went Wrong, their landmark 1991 newspaper series, in a new project with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Over the next year, the project team will examine how four decades of public policy has shaped America's ongoing economic crisis.


Back Story

The authors talk about What Went Wrong

Donald Barlett and James Steele talk about the project, and why they decided to revisit a book they wrote two decades ago, in a series of video clips produced by the Workshop.

Nation's Story

Who pays the taxes?

Who pays the taxes?

We feature charts, maps, photos and other visualizations that reflect the state of the economy as part of our What Went Wrong project. This column chart shows the growing disparity between what individuals and corporations pay in taxes. In the 1950s, the difference was 22 percent. Recent figures show the difference is 62 percent.

Rags to rags: Economic mobility hard to come by

New Pew Center on States report confirms that moving up the American economic ladder is difficult, even though most people have more income than their parents.

Homelessness takes it toll on Florida's youngest

Florida, as a center of the housing boom, still struggles to recover from the Great Recession. Financial stresses and widespread foreclosures have placed families in precarious situations, resulting in a spike in child homelessness. Susannah Nesmith reports in the Broward Bulldog.

Older workers face challenges in Silicon Valley

An advanced degree and experience in the tech sector should be a ticket to a job in today's economy. But older workers in the heart of the new economy, Silicon Valley, are finding their resume is not the issue. Aaron Glantz reports in The Bay Citizen.

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Read an Excerpt

The Betrayal of the American Dream on Google Books

The Betrayal of the American Dream on Google Books

Check out the first chapter of Barlett and Steele's 2012 book here.