The Wire remains the most highly-regarded and compelling urban drama of our time. Through complex characters and story lines, The Wire has defined and created our collective understanding of how multiple systems (drug economy; criminal justice; education; media; politics) ensnare our youth and limit opportunities for achievement in spite of our best efforts to save them; or the best intentions of all the individuals that surround them.

As The Wire came to a close, we elected the first black President. And yet amidst the fragile state of our economy and fractured partisan politics, we are seeing alarming levels of poverty and unemployment among the African American community. Black unemployment is virtually twice that of white unemployment. Underemployment is 3 times as high. Black youth unemployment is at 46%. So called “Wire communities” still abound.

But how can we reverse course and reach back into the forgotten neighborhoods like those in The Wire to build a better future together? Despite our differences, can we find common ground that allows us to once again create opportunity for those who need it most? How do we turn these failing communities into viable ones that instead of dragging on our economy and society, improve it?