‘The Lost Girls of Rocky Mount’: A Guest Pick by Douglas Williams

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Douglas Williams is currently a doctoral student in political science at the University of Alabama, where his research centers around public policy and politics as it relates to disadvantaged communities and the labor movement. You can find him on Twitter at @DougWilliams85, at a collaborative blog on Southern progressivism called The South Lawn, as well as at The Century Foundation, where he blogs about the labor movement.

The Lost Girls of Rocky Mount

Robert Draper | GQ | June 2010 | 22 minutes (5,382 words)

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This article, y’all. Whew.

I happened upon this article a couple of years ago while doing some unrelated research, and it is something that has stuck with me ever since. It is hard for a story like this to not have some effect on you, for the author provides the grim details of the murders and their investigation with such vividity as to allow readers to place themselves smack dab in the middle of the story. It was also an article that reinforced a lot of concepts that have lived with me since birth: the gut-wrenching despair of persistent poverty; the lack of importance placed on Black women’s bodies; and the fecklessness of law enforcement when it comes to investigating crimes in communities of color, particularly when there is such a large separation between those communities and the political establishment that represents them. It is all here for you to dissect, with few stones, if any, unturned.

This is one of the easiest recommendations that I have ever been able to make.

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Photo: Harris Walker

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Mike Dang
Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, and the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.