August 24: A Virtual Conversation with Pam Fessler, Author of Carville’s Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice

Monday, August 24, 7 PM ET on Zoom

What Leprosy Can Teach Us About the COVID-19 Crisis

In 1998, NPR correspondent Pam Fessler (@pamelafessler) learned a family secret that had been covered up for 63 years: Her husband’s grandfather had leprosy. Her father-in-law revealed that he had returned from school one day to discover that his dad had simply disappeared, taken by public health authorities from their home in New York to the national leprosarium of the United States in Carville, La. He was confined there for the rest of his life.

Back when Morris Koll was whisked away in 1935, many people believed — incorrectly — that leprosy meant someone was cursed, highly contagious and that their fingers and toes would soon fall off. A diagnosis would lead to being ostracized and quarantined for life, even in the United States.

On Monday, August 24th, Science Writers in New York invites you to join us on Zoom for a conversation with SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) and Pam Fessler about her book Carville’s Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice (W. W. Norton & Company), a story with interesting parallels and lessons for today’s handling of COVID-19.

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR’s National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.

In her reporting at NPR, Fessler does stories on homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. She reports on what non-profit groups, the government, and others are doing to reduce poverty and how those efforts are working. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.

Fessler also covers elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fessler became NPR’s first Homeland Security correspondent. For seven years, she reported on efforts to tighten security at ports, airports, and borders, and the debate over the impact on privacy and civil rights. She also reported on the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, The 9/11 Commission Report, Social Security, and the Census. Fessler was one of NPR’s White House reporters during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

There is more information about Carville’s Cure on the book’s Facebook page.

Monday, August 24
7 to 8 pm ET

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