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Atlantic: Colleges are no match for American poverty

Russell Lowery-Hart, an Aspen Presidential Fellow, has transformed Amarillo College to focus on addressing the effects of poverty.

Russell Lowery-Hart spent a Texas winter weekend sleeping outside, even when a light rain fell and it grew so cold that he forced muddy shoes into his sleeping bag to warm his feet. By day, the 48-year-old became increasingly sunburned crisscrossing the streets of Waco, applying for fast-food jobs and searching for soup kitchens. He arrived at one charity at noon to find that lunch ended at 11:30; luckily, a homeless woman shared her cinnamon bread with him.

He was unshowered and unshaven, in the same secondhand clothing the whole weekend. By Sunday morning, the humiliations had undone him. When a family heading to church crossed the street to avoid him, he hollered out, “I’m a fucking college president, you can look at me!”