Mercer Sullivan Sullivan explains how growing up in the “still segregated South,” coupled with his coming of age in the 1960s, shaped his early interests in social justice. He describes how cutting his teeth in New York during his grad school years helped him to shed his idealistic expectations, and grow as a researcher. In tracing his unconventional career path, Sullivan recounts how he managed to successfully straddle the boundaries between academia and think-tank research, while keeping intact his studies of disadvantaged inner-city youth
My path into graduate school, Anthropology, and the study of crime began during my undergraduate years in the late 1960s when I became passionately interested in issues of social justice and urban poverty. I had started at Yale mostly interested in the Humanities and eventually completed a combined major in Philosophy and Literature. Along the way, however, the world began to look like a very diff erent place. I had grown up in Georgia, in the then stillsegregated South. By the time I got to college, I am embarrassed to remember, I had given very little thought to politics, despite having lived through
the sit-ins of the mid-1960s. Th en, during my freshman year, Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for another term and the campus erupted with cheers, making me conscious of the draft for the fi rst time. Soon aft er, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.