There were not many other poor students in his class at law school. Jesse Hamilton McCoy II knew that most of the laws he learned about were not written or enforced by working class Black people.
As the first in his family — and one of the few in his community — to attend college, McCoy could easily point to his own story as evidence of the classic American dream narrative. Instead, he chooses to frame his story as an exception to the rule and dedicates himself to those in his community that he saw drop out of school to help pay the family bills or turn to illegal work when turned down from other jobs.
He talks to host Anita Rao about the ways the justice system can prioritize humanity over the market as evictions cases return to courts after a months-long pause. McCoy is a housing lawyer, the James Scott Farrin Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law and supervising attorney for the Duke Law Civil Jushtice Clinic. He runs a Durham County eviction diversion program in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina.