About Jesse

    A veteran newspaper reporter, Jesse tells stories of regular people living with passion, struggling against injustice or simply practicing their faith. Through songwriting, magazine journalism and essays, Jesse aims to describe the human condition, especially the search for transcendence.

    Publications



    The Atlantic


Big Bill City Blues (Durham News column on city’s growth)

Durham has now grown to the point where I’m afraid to go downtown. I’m not afraid of crime nor of being unwelcome. I’m only a little annoyed about paying $15 or $20 for a simple meal. These are all legitimate fears, depending on who you are. But what really terrifies me is not being able to find a parking space.

Continue reading…

The Vault rises from the ashes (Durham News column)

Moses Ochola is trying to renew his father’s original mission: Making a space for African diasporic culture in Durham, with a new emphasis on the diaspora more than the African. Moses says The Vault is for “old Durham, black Durham.”

Continue reading…

People power and faith (Durham News column on immigrants’ fears in a Trump presidency)

On Wednesday night after the election, Durham Presbyterian Church held a bilingual Vigil for Peace, Unity and Hope with its sister congregation, Iglesia Emanuel. Toward the end of the service, about 70 Latino immigrants encircled the small sanctuary, holding candles, offering prayers and telling stories. One woman said she went to work on Wednesday morning and her employer greeted her in tears, promising to hide her family if the persecution starts. Another woman explicitly named the Nazis and the Jews. “We are so afraid,” she said.

Continue reading…

Some of Durham’s best friends (News & Observer column)

Doug and Mona represent the kind of economic development we need. Durham is their destination. They haven’t felt the need to “own” it, to tear it down, to rebuild it, to go in and change a neighborhood so it better suits them.

Continue reading…

Open & affirming for #BlackLivesMatter

United Church of Chapel Hill has been trying to attract people of color for decades. In the 1960s, pastor Dewitt Myers hosted Martin Luther King Jr. in his home in spite of threats from the KKK. And for more than 20 years, the church has supported United Voices of Praise in partnership with a black Pentecostal Holiness church in nearby Durham. The mixed-race gospel choir rotates between Sunday services at the two churches and has toured across the United States and Europe. But it was the Open & Affirming covenant that brought people of color.

Continue reading…