Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Father and Son

Haynes Johnson died on Friday.  He and his father, Malcolm, are the only father-son duo to win Pulitzer Prizes for journalism. Haynes won for his reporting from the deep South during its reign of terror in the 1960s, when he traveled the region for months, reporting on the fears, aspirations, disappointments and triumphs of Southern blacks during and after the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Malcolm’s Pulitzer was awarded in 1949 for a 24-part series (that is not a misprint), “Crime on the Waterfront”, which chronicled the murderous alliance between the International Longshoreman’s Union and organized crime that ruled over the New York waterfront with a bloody fist (and led to one of the great movies of all time). This was journalism at its best: committed, courageous and thoughtful. It started at the top, for the pressures on publishers and editors to go easy or look the other way were relentless, and the costs of producing such efforts were enormous. But it was the reporters who really put their lives on the line. In 1965 Selma, Alabama, was a violent place where both public officials and private vigilantes used intimidation and murder to enforce the local order. The same was true of the waterfront, where people named Anastasia and Costello, Lansky and Luciano only made death threats they were more than happy to keep. These were the beats of Malcolm and Haynes Johnson, places where they were not welcome, places where people disappeared without a trace, places that had stories they believed must be told.

Tax Abuse

Drones and the Law