Unbound will feature a Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s ‘portrait of race and capitalism’

At this year’s Unbound Book Festival, authors including Marcia Chatelain, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for History, unveil ideas about working in the United States.

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Chatelain’s book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black Americareveals the story between the fast food industry and black life, a relationship built on empty promises of economic and social growth for black communities in the United States.

Chatelain, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and religious studies from MU and a doctorate in American civilization from Brown University, says the idea for his book came to him in graduate school.

Conversations about food and nutrition, she says, often neglect to ask why the food landscape is as we see it today and how that landscape affects black people.

Franchise is a deep dive into the relationship between the fast food industry and black communities that began with McDonald’s decision to franchise black-owned locations. The move, which seemed progressive in 1960s America, had broader implications for the economic, social, and political development of black communities.

Marcia Chatelain is a featured author at this year’s Unbound Book Festival. She will speak at the “Take This Job” panel alongside Kim Kelly and Hilary Leichter at the Tiger Hotel from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 23.

Franchising McDonald’s to black business owners presented opportunities for wealth and development, but it also exacerbated the systemic issues of social welfare and political inequality facing black Americans.

A journalist and historian by training, Chatelain combines investigation and storytelling to provide context for her examination of the fast food industry. “I read something,” she says, “and I’m like, ‘Okay, where else can this take me? What other rabbit holes do I want to fall into? What other questions can I ask? »

The Pulitzer Prize administration calls his book “a portrait of race and capitalism that masterfully illustrates how the struggle for civil rights has been intertwined with the fate of black business.”

Chatelain wants to tackle the problems caused by systems that seek to deprive or supercharge rather than meet everyone’s needs. “I really see my book not so much about fast food as about how we solve problems, how we get to the heart of problems that seem to be everywhere,” she says.

She says solutions can be found in strong public policy. Resources such as solid housing, good wages, and access to affordable food can help to truly feed people.

Chatelain is not just a writer. She also works in a variety of other media, including podcasts and speaking engagements. And although she says good storytelling can be found anywhere, she thinks the relationship depicted in Franchise was to be a book. “Books allow you to have a lot of space for big ideas,” she says.

This year, Chatelain will participate for the first time in the Unbound Book Festival. Along with her excitement about returning to Colombia and seeing old friends, she says she’s curious to learn more about other writers’ writing processes and to hear “what motivating”.

Chatelain is one of two Pulitzer Prize-winning writers to be featured at Unbound this year. The other, Viet Thanh Nguyen, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016.

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