This collection of essays has its roots in W.E.B. Du Bois’ classic The Souls of Black Folk, but like poverty itself, its reach is universal. The subject matter stretches from New Orleans and Boston and Philadelphia to Cairo and Darfur and Afghanistan; the goal is to spark a critical dialogue on poverty and new ways to alleviate it. Rev. Charles (Chaz) Howard C’00, Penn’s associate chaplain and a founding member of the Greater Love Movement, collected and edited the essays, whose styles run from scholarly to grim narrative to angry testimonial. (He also contributed an essay, “Silent Pulpits,” which examines a number of theological approaches to poverty.)
The book is accompanied by a CD, whose 14 tracks encompass a similarly broad range of musical styles.
The Souls of Poor Folk “is intended as a thoughtful and provocative disturbance,” notes Dr. Dennis Culhane, professor of social welfare policy and professor of psychology in psychiatry at Penn in his introduction. The essays in it “question the social, political, and economic processes that produce marginality, which recast and re-privilege the so-called marginal, and which offer new inspirations and directions.”