Institute for Southern Studies
The Institute for Southern Studies is a non-profit media and research center based in Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Durham County and also extends into Wake County. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, and the 85th-largest in the United States by population, with 228,330 residents as of the 2010 United States census...

 that advocates for progressive political and social causes in the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. The Institute also publishes the award-winning journal, Southern Exposure, and noted online blog and magazine, Facing South.

History and Background

The Institute was founded in 1970 by veterans of the U.S. civil rights movement, including Julian Bond
Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

, a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

, and Howard Romaine and Sue Thrasher, veterans of the Southern Student Organizing Committee
Southern Student Organizing Committee
The Southern Student Organizing Committee was a student activist group in the southern United States during the 1960s, which focused on many political and social issues, including African-American civil rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, worker's rights, and feminism...

. The founders believed a research and education institute was needed to help continue the momentum of 1960s movements for equality and justice, while moving into new areas such as labor rights, environmental protection and democratic reform.

In 1973, the Institute began publishing Southern Exposure, a journal that became known for its investigative reporting into Southern power-brokers and its oral histories of Southerners involved in social change movements.

In 2000, the Institute began publishing an email newsletter named Facing South. The newsletter highlights important news stories in the South and typically also includes a piece of progressive political analysis, as well as "The Institute Index," statistics on a particular issue or theme.

In 2005, the Institute launched an online blog, also called Facing South, which now averages more than 50,000 visitors a month.

Since 2000, the Institute's executive director has been Chris Kromm, who has worked in the South as a journalist and public interest advocate since 1992. Current staff also include Sue Sturgis, Editorial Director; and Jerimee Richir, New Media Organizer.

Research and Education Programs

The Institute's research and outreach programs have focused on a broad range of issues, including economic justice, civil rights, environmental protection and democratic reform. Recent Institute initiatives have included (1) Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project tracking the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

; (2) the Peace and Security Program, which has examined the South's disproportionate ties to the military and the Iraq war; and, (3) the Environment and Energy Reporting Project, launched in 2008, which examines the political and economic influence of the energy industry in the South.

Between 2000 and 2011, the Institute has also focused on the subject of voting rights in the South, especially the political participation of African-Americans and other historically disenfranchised groups. The Institute's Voting Rights Watch project has publicized such issues as the cost of voter ID laws, barriers to student voting and voter registration "purges" that have prevented citizens from voting.

The Institute has published a series of influential reports on Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

, especially its social, political and environmental aftermath, and the state of the post-storm recovery. Key reports include:
  • The Mardi Gras Index (February/March 2006), a widely-used set of statistics on the state of Katrina recovery;
  • One Year after Katrina (August/September 2006), a book-length report examining the status of housing, jobs, health care, education and other key issues;
  • A New Agenda for the Gulf Coast (February/March 2007), a set of policy proposals for a just and speedy recovery;
  • Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (August/September 2007), featuring interviews with 20 grassroots organizations in the Gulf Coast and their prescriptions for policy change;
  • Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008), a report produced in conjunction with the Brookings Institution
    Brookings Institution
    The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., in the United States. One of Washington's oldest think tanks, Brookings conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and...

    , highlighting the need to bring U.S. disaster policy in line with international human rights law.

  • "Faith in the Gulf: Lessons from the Religious Response to Katrina" (August/September 2008), which highlighted the catalytic role faith organizations have played in assisting affected Gulf Coast communities and inspiring advocacy for needed policy changes.

Current research and education programs include the 2010 Census and Redistricting Project, the Energy and Environment Reporting Project, and the Freedom Journalism School, a new program to train Southern bloggers and new media journalists in how to conduct investigative reporting and public interest journalism.

Southern Exposure

In 1973, the Institute began publishing Southern Exposure, a journal covering a broad range of political and cultural issues, with a special emphasis on investigative journalism
Investigative journalism
Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism...

 and oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...


Southern Exposure has been recognized with numerous major journalism awards, including two George Polk Awards
George Polk Awards
The George Polk Awards in Journalism are a series of American journalism awards presented annually by Long Island University in New York in the United States.-History:...

 (Magazine Reporting and Regional Reporting), a National Magazine Award
National Magazine Award
The National Magazine Awards are a series of US awards that honor excellence in the magazine industry. They are administered by the American Society of Magazine Editors and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City...

 (Public Interest Reporting), the John Hancock Award for Excellence in Business and Financial Journalism, and awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors
Investigative Reporters and Editors
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the quality of investigative reporting. Formed in 1975, it presents the IRE Awards and holds conferences and training classes for journalists. Its headquarters is in Columbia, Missouri, at the University of...

, the National Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists
Society of Professional Journalists
The Society of Professional Journalists , formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is one of the oldest organizations representing journalists in the United States. It was established in April 1909 at DePauw University, and its charter was designed by William Meharry Glenn. The ten founding members of...

, and the White House Correspondents' Association
White House Correspondents' Association
The White House Correspondents' Association is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States. The WHCA was founded in 1914 by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a Congressional committee would select which journalists could attend...


Notable authors who have contributed to Southern Exposure include Julian Bond
Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

, Anne Braden
Anne Braden
Anne McCarty Braden was an American advocate of racial equality. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in rigidly segregated Anniston, Alabama, Braden grew up in a white middle-class family that accepted southern racial morals wholeheartedly...

, Denise Giardina
Denise Giardina
Denise Giardina is a novelist. Her book Storming Heaven was a Discovery Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and received the 1987 W. D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. The Unquiet Earth received an American Book Award and the Lillian Smith Book Award...

, Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
James Allen "Jim" Hightower is an American syndicated columnist, activist and author.-Life and career:Born in Denison, Texas, Hightower came from a working class background. He worked his way through college as assistant general manager of the Denton Chamber of Commerce and later landed a spot as...

, Bernice Johnson Reagon
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Bernice Johnson Reagon is a singer, composer, scholar, and social activist, who founded the a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973.-Early life and education:...

, Stetson Kennedy
Stetson Kennedy
William Stetson Kennedy was an American author and human rights activist. One of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the twentieth century, he is remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world...

, Mab Segrest
Mab Segrest
Mab Segrest is an American feminist writer and activist. Mab Segrest is best known for her 1994 autobiographical work Memoir of a Race Traitor....

, Lee Smith
Lee Smith (journalist)
Lee Smith is an American journalist, and senior editor for The Weekly Standard. He is the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations . Smith has written for Slate, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and a variety of Arab media outlets...

, Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel
Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for The Good War, and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.-Early...

 and Alice Walker
Alice Walker
Alice Malsenior Walker is an American author, poet, and activist. She has written both fiction and essays about race and gender...

. Southern Exposure published quarterly from 1973–2000 and 2002-2005. As the Institute has expanded its online media, it now publishes print issues of Southern Exposure twice a year.

In 2003/2004, Southern Exposure published "Banking on Misery," an award-winning investigative series that was one of the first in-depth reports on the growing predatory lending
Predatory lending
Predatory lending describes unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. While there are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, an audit report on predatory lending from the office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly...

 crisis, especially the leading role of Citigroup
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate...

 in predatory banking practices. The Columbia Journalism Review
Columbia Journalism Review
The Columbia Journalism Review is an American magazine for professional journalists published bimonthly by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 1961....

 later credited Southern Exposure with breaking the story about Citigroup's dependence on subprime lending
Subprime lending
In finance, subprime lending means making loans to people who may have difficulty maintaining the repayment schedule...

 (three out of four loans originating from Citigroup in 2000 were from its subprime unit, Southern Exposure reported) and foreshadowing the 2007/2008 home credit crisis.

After a two-year hiatus, Southern Exposure resumed publication in 2011 with an issue about the health crisis facing Gulf Coast communities in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed unabated for three months in 2010, and continues to leak fresh oil. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry...


Facing South Newsletter and Blog/Online Magazine

Since 2000, the Institute has published a regular email newsletter, Facing South. In 2005, the Institute began a daily blog and online magazine, also called Facing South, which covers a wide range of political and social issues. Facing South's regular contributors are Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute; Sue Sturgis, a former reporter for The News & Observer
The News & Observer
The News & Observer is the regional daily newspaper of the Research Triangle area of the U.S. State of North Carolina. The N&O, as it is popularly called, is based in Raleigh and also covers Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill. The paper also has substantial readership in most of the state east of...

 (Raleigh) and The Independent Weekly
Independent Weekly
The Independent Weekly is a tabloid-format alternative weekly newspaper published in Durham, North Carolina, United States and distributed throughout the Research Triangle area and counties .The Independent is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and has a...

; and Desiree Evans, a former policy analyst for TransAfrica Forum
TransAfrica Forum
TransAfrica Forum is an advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. that seeks to influence the foreign policy of the United States concerning African countries and the African diaspora.-See also:* Diaspora politics in the United States...


In April/May 2008, Facing South drew widespread attention for breaking the story about illegal and allegedly deceptive election practices by Women's Voices Women Vote
Women's Voices Women Vote
The Voter Participation Center is a non-profit, non-partisan organization in the United States dedicated to increasing voter registration, voting and civic activity among unmarried women, people of color and 18-29 year olds. The organization is based in Washington, D.C. and was formerly named...

, a non-profit group in Washington, D.C. with close ties to Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Hillary Clinton. Media coverage resulting from Facing South's investigative report appeared on ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

, The Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Observer, serving Charlotte, North Carolina and its metro area, is the largest newspaper, in terms of circulation, in North Carolina and South Carolina...

Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

, Harpers', Politico
Politico (newspaper)
The Politico is an American political journalism organization based in Arlington, Virginia, that distributes its content via television, the Internet, newspaper, and radio. Its coverage of Washington, D.C., includes the U.S. Congress, lobbying, media and the Presidency...

, Salon, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

, TPM Muckraker, The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, Wired
Wired (magazine)
Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

, and dozens of other major outlets. Women's Voices Women Vote settled with the state of North Carolina in October 2008 and agreed to pay a $100,000 fine for not complying with state law.

In October 2010, Facing South began an investigative series focused on Art Pope
Art Pope
James Arthur "Art" Pope is a North Carolina political figure, businessman, attorney and philanthropist. He is CEO and Board Chairman of Variety Wholesalers, Inc and President and Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation....

, a leading benefactor of Republicans and conservative causes based in Raleigh, N.C. Facing South's series showed that Art Pope's family foundation supplied roughly 90% of the income of the leading conservative groups in North Carolina. The series also documented Pope's role in North Carolina's politics, including that three groups backed by Pope -- Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity is a Washington, D.C.–based political advocacy group. According to their literature, they promote economic policy that supports business, and restrains regulation by government...

, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC -- accounted for 75% of the outside money coming into N.C.'s 2010 legislative races.

The Institute also collaborated with Independent Weekly
Independent Weekly
The Independent Weekly is a tabloid-format alternative weekly newspaper published in Durham, North Carolina, United States and distributed throughout the Research Triangle area and counties .The Independent is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and has a...

 on a cover feature about Art Pope for the paper's March 9, 2011 issue.. The Institute for Southern Studies was also heavily cited in a widely-circulated profile of Art Pope written by journalist Jane Mayer
Jane Mayer
Jane Mayer is an American investigative journalist who has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1995...

 for the October 10, 2011 issue of The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

. In October 2011, the Institute launched a special investigative website about Art Pope,

Facing South now averages a readership of over 40,000 visitors a month.

External links

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