After years of flooding, residents of historic Black towns are faced with a difficult choice: stay and preserve their legacy of independence, or accept buyouts and leave the town – and its unique history – behind.
It’s a balmy Monday morning in January, and 17-year-old Benjamin Calvin isn’t at school. His attendance had been spotty since his senior year started the previous August, but after the winter break he stopped showing up altogether. He says he’s in the midst of transferring to an online school, but just a month later, on his 18th birthday, he dropped out of that program as well. The Texas teen’s qualms with school were far ranging: He was bullied in middle school, his teachers moved too fast for him to keep up, and sitting still for long lengths of time was almost as torturous as the early morning start time. So when Benjamin, whose problems in school generally stemmed from a handful of sensory and learning disabilities, was arrested, charged with a Class C misdemeanor and expelled to a disciplinary school called the Alternative Learning Center in April of his junior year, it only solidified his opinion that his Austin-area high school—or any high school, for that matter—wasn’t the right place for him.
Like similar facilities across the U.S., the Hutto Residential Center detains immigrants within prison walls—even though most have committed no crime. The recollections of a community organizer and former staff psychologist take us inside.