Bull City Survivor

Standing Up to a Hard Life in a Southern City

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About the Book

Emma Johnston (a pseudonym) is an African American resident of Durham, North Carolina, whose son was brutally murdered in 2007. Combining the voices of Emma and her coauthor Simon Partner, a professor at Duke University, the book recounts the postwar history of one of the South’s fastest-growing communities through the eyes of one of its most disadvantaged residents. In the process, the book attempts to shed light on the social and economic conditions that led to the murder of Emma’s son, one of 25 to 30 people (many of them African American young men) who fall victim to gun violence each year in Durham.

About the Author(s)

Simon Partner is a professor of history at Duke University. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Emma Johnston is a lifelong resident of Durham. Her son Michael was one of the city’s 26 murder victims in 2007.

Bibliographic Details

Simon Partner and Emma Johnston
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7447-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0580-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction by Simon Partner  1

Chapter 1. A Hayti Childhood  9

Chapter 2. Learning the Hard Way  53

Chapter 3. Dreams and Realities  95

Chapter 4. Legacies  120

Chapter 5. The Hardest Trial  153

Conclusion  181

Chapter Notes  201

Bibliography  205

Index  207


Book Reviews & Awards

“Although Durham, North Carolina, is generally regarded as a prosperous city with three excellent universities and the Research Triangle Park, it also contains pockets of extreme poverty and violence. In 2007, the son of Emma Johnston (a pseudonym) was murdered, becoming one of that year’s 26 victims. When Partner set out to tell the story of the city’s gang violence, he became fascinated by Johnston’s story instead. This work is built upon their subsequent conversations and provides details from her childhood to her day to day life in a world of illegal drugs, crime and violence.”—Reference & Research Book News