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#SearchingForPurpleAmerica: One Woman's Road Trip Across America To Find Commonality In This Red V. Blue Election Year

Meet America with Lucile Scott, who drove over 14,000 miles this summer with her tiny dog Vinni in a Mini Cooper to talk to everyday folks about the election. This post covers the Southern portion of her epic journey from Brooklyn to California and back again. You can find more profiles on Instagram at lucile.baker.scott or Twitter @lucilebscott.

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1. Bryanna - Covington, Virginia

Bryanna, age 28, lives in Covington, Virginia (pop. 5,000). She got out of jail last week for a meth-related charge, and says everyone she knows in town has been in and out of jail for offenses related to addiction. She can't vote until she's off probation, but if she could, her first priority would be cleaning up local political corruption and a local system that profits off arrest and incarceration—such as by making people pay back the thousands it costs to raid their house or impound their car for their entire sentence. For President, she supports Hillary, and the issue most important to her is abortion and maintaining a woman's right to choose. She already has one daughter and plans to have more and wants to make sure they can choose when and how often to have kids. #election2016 #SearchingForPurpleAmerica
Lucile Scott

Bryanna, age 28, lives in Covington, Virginia (pop. 5,000). She got out of jail last week for a meth-related charge, and says everyone she knows in town has been in and out of jail for offenses related to addiction. She can't vote until she's off probation, but if she could, her first priority would be cleaning up local political corruption and a local system that profits off arrest and incarceration—such as by making people pay back the thousands it costs to raid their house or impound their car for their entire sentence. For President, she supports Hillary, and the issue most important to her is abortion and maintaining a woman's right to choose. She already has one daughter and plans to have more and wants to make sure they can choose when and how often to have kids. #election2016 #SearchingForPurpleAmerica

2. John - Jassamine County, Kentucky

John (pictured with Vinni the road trip dog), age 66, lost his job as a manager of international operations at a company that manufactures grips for golf clubs during the financial crisis. He looked for another job, but couldn't find a good one, so decided to go ahead and retire, moving from North Carolina to a small plot of land in Kentucky's rural Jessamine County. He considers himself a fiscal conservative and social moderate, but usually votes Republican. He doesn't really support Trump and hasn't decided yet if he will vote for him or not vote at all. He feels that something in America is "unraveling"—and, for him, the solution requires reducing the national debt and using the money we do have for things we really need, like roads and supporting our veterans, and not for entitlements. He also thinks hanging crosses on public buildings can bring a community together and cease this unraveling, and, though he hasn't been to church since he was a kid, believes communities should be allowed to do so if they desire. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

John (pictured with Vinni the road trip dog), age 66, lost his job as a manager of international operations at a company that manufactures grips for golf clubs during the financial crisis. He looked for another job, but couldn't find a good one, so decided to go ahead and retire, moving from North Carolina to a small plot of land in Kentucky's rural Jessamine County. He considers himself a fiscal conservative and social moderate, but usually votes Republican. He doesn't really support Trump and hasn't decided yet if he will vote for him or not vote at all. He feels that something in America is "unraveling"—and, for him, the solution requires reducing the national debt and using the money we do have for things we really need, like roads and supporting our veterans, and not for entitlements. He also thinks hanging crosses on public buildings can bring a community together and cease this unraveling, and, though he hasn't been to church since he was a kid, believes communities should be allowed to do so if they desire. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

3. Kyle - Lexington, Kentucky

Kyle (left), a native of Lexington, KY, spends much of his time playing competitive pool when not on the job installing hard wood floors and siding. Two years ago, after having voted for George W. Bush and then Obama, he looked at the ongoing dysfunction and lack of change coming out of Washington and started identifying as a Libertarian. He supports personal responsibility and Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson. His biggest political priorities are getting out of the Middle East, dismantling the military industrial complex, and ending welfare, both corporate—in the form of tax breaks and bailouts—and for individuals. Dave Capano (right), head of the Kentucky state Libertarian party, overheard us chatting in a coffee shop and came over to introduce himself. And he then informed us that Kyle is far from alone in his conversion. According to him, the Libertarian Party is the fastest growing party in the country, above even Independent, and it's numbers have more than doubled in the last five years. He also said that like all Libertarians he is a hugger—as Libertarians understand that very little is free, but hugs are—before embracing Kyle and giving him a petition to collect signatures. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Kyle (left), a native of Lexington, KY, spends much of his time playing competitive pool when not on the job installing hard wood floors and siding. Two years ago, after having voted for George W. Bush and then Obama, he looked at the ongoing dysfunction and lack of change coming out of Washington and started identifying as a Libertarian. He supports personal responsibility and Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson. His biggest political priorities are getting out of the Middle East, dismantling the military industrial complex, and ending welfare, both corporate—in the form of tax breaks and bailouts—and for individuals. Dave Capano (right), head of the Kentucky state Libertarian party, overheard us chatting in a coffee shop and came over to introduce himself. And he then informed us that Kyle is far from alone in his conversion. According to him, the Libertarian Party is the fastest growing party in the country, above even Independent, and it's numbers have more than doubled in the last five years. He also said that like all Libertarians he is a hugger—as Libertarians understand that very little is free, but hugs are—before embracing Kyle and giving him a petition to collect signatures. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

4. Dana, Bobby, and Gleema - Hazard, Kentucky

Hazard, a small town in the hills of Kentucky, used to be the center of America's coal industry. But the mines are shutting down, and those jobs have pretty much dried up—and it's now the center of America's rural opiate epidemic. Dana (far right) used to work picking rocks off the belt at a mine, and Bobby (center) was in explosives. "It was hard work, but good work," says Dana. Today, she works at Burger King and often is only scheduled for 10 hours a week, at $7.25 an hour. Bobby works the night shift at WalMart. Neither can currently afford a home, and they are all living in a shelter. Dana plans to vote for Hillary, because she thinks she really cares about the poor, and because she'd like the chance to vote for a woman for President. Bobby plans to vote for Donald, as he called him, because he likes a man who speaks his mind, and because he has said he'd bring back the coal jobs. Gleema (left) doesn't know who she supports, but says the one thing she knows is "we're in trouble if it's Trump." What does everyone in their community agree on? "Jobs," says Dana, as she carefully hand rolls cigarettes and places them into a shoebox, giving one to anyone who asks. "People around here want to work, but there's no good jobs. We need jobs." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Hazard, a small town in the hills of Kentucky, used to be the center of America's coal industry. But the mines are shutting down, and those jobs have pretty much dried up—and it's now the center of America's rural opiate epidemic. Dana (far right) used to work picking rocks off the belt at a mine, and Bobby (center) was in explosives. "It was hard work, but good work," says Dana. Today, she works at Burger King and often is only scheduled for 10 hours a week, at $7.25 an hour. Bobby works the night shift at WalMart. Neither can currently afford a home, and they are all living in a shelter. Dana plans to vote for Hillary, because she thinks she really cares about the poor, and because she'd like the chance to vote for a woman for President. Bobby plans to vote for Donald, as he called him, because he likes a man who speaks his mind, and because he has said he'd bring back the coal jobs. Gleema (left) doesn't know who she supports, but says the one thing she knows is "we're in trouble if it's Trump." What does everyone in their community agree on? "Jobs," says Dana, as she carefully hand rolls cigarettes and places them into a shoebox, giving one to anyone who asks. "People around here want to work, but there's no good jobs. We need jobs." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

5. John - Greenville, Tennessee

John, a high school teacher from rural Greenville, Tennessee—birthplace of President Andrew Johnson—says "I'm 55, I own guns, and I go to church. What party do you think I am?" However, while he is Republican, he voted for John Kerry in 2004, and tries to remain open minded. He thinks our biggest problem as a nation is that it no longer seems like we're in it together, and instead, like when one side wins, it means the other losses. For example, he says he's fine with gay marriage, he knew it was coming, but he doesn't know why, after the Supreme Court passed the decision making it the law of the land, Obama had to illuminate the White House in rainbow lights. "I just thought, wow, I mean wow, talk about rubbing it in and being a sore winner. I thought you were supposed to be the President of all of us." How will he vote in November? He thinks Trump is an "asshole," but can't bring himself to vote for Hillary, who he thinks is too ruthless, and remains undecided. He also says he wouldn't have voted for Bernie because socialism is essentially like living in a cage. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

John, a high school teacher from rural Greenville, Tennessee—birthplace of President Andrew Johnson—says "I'm 55, I own guns, and I go to church. What party do you think I am?" However, while he is Republican, he voted for John Kerry in 2004, and tries to remain open minded. He thinks our biggest problem as a nation is that it no longer seems like we're in it together, and instead, like when one side wins, it means the other losses. For example, he says he's fine with gay marriage, he knew it was coming, but he doesn't know why, after the Supreme Court passed the decision making it the law of the land, Obama had to illuminate the White House in rainbow lights. "I just thought, wow, I mean wow, talk about rubbing it in and being a sore winner. I thought you were supposed to be the President of all of us." How will he vote in November? He thinks Trump is an "asshole," but can't bring himself to vote for Hillary, who he thinks is too ruthless, and remains undecided. He also says he wouldn't have voted for Bernie because socialism is essentially like living in a cage. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

6. Danielle - Durham, North Carolina

When Danielle, age 32, was growing up in Durham, North Carolina, with her liberal, politically engaged parents, she rebelled by becoming a conservative, and her political hero was John McCain. Then two things happened. One, the 2008 election and what she saw as McCain compromising what he stood for. And two, she started working at a southern policy center led by Julian Bond and other Civil Right activists. And though to this day she really likes rules and thinks they should be followed, she realized many of them were stacked for some people and against others. Today, she identifies as a Pragmatic Progressive, dedicated to and with faith in incremental democratic change, and not a liberal per se. She works for an organization that's building a progressive network across the South, holds an elected position on the Soil and Water Commission (her mom's former seat), and is an elected delegate from Durham for Hillary Clinton. What's her 2016 priority? "Engaging more people in the process. So they have a seat at the table. That's what we need across the region," she says. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

When Danielle, age 32, was growing up in Durham, North Carolina, with her liberal, politically engaged parents, she rebelled by becoming a conservative, and her political hero was John McCain. Then two things happened. One, the 2008 election and what she saw as McCain compromising what he stood for. And two, she started working at a southern policy center led by Julian Bond and other Civil Right activists. And though to this day she really likes rules and thinks they should be followed, she realized many of them were stacked for some people and against others. Today, she identifies as a Pragmatic Progressive, dedicated to and with faith in incremental democratic change, and not a liberal per se. She works for an organization that's building a progressive network across the South, holds an elected position on the Soil and Water Commission (her mom's former seat), and is an elected delegate from Durham for Hillary Clinton. What's her 2016 priority? "Engaging more people in the process. So they have a seat at the table. That's what we need across the region," she says. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

7. Christine and Judy - Durham, North Carolina

When I asked Christine and Judy about HB2, aka the trans bathroom law—at a bar/music venue converted from an industrial garage in Durham, North Carolina, where the bathrooms are gender neutral and marked "Stalls only" and "Stalls and urinals" in protest of the law—Christine told me it bothered her that the South and North Carolina seemed to be viewed as a "conservative monolith." In fact, she and her tablemates informed me that Durham has been gay friendly since at least 1984, when the first of the bunch moved there. What impacts them and scares them more in liberal-majority Durham is all the anti-poor measures attached to the bill that were hidden behind the "smoke screen" of the bathroom and other anti-gay provisions. In Durham, gentrification is on steroids, "a tsunami of development money" is coming in, and housing costs and displacement are skyrocketing—however the conservative state legislature has been blocking the local government's efforts to have affordable housing policy, not to mention stricter gun access laws in this city with pretty high rates of gun violence. But the town has a strong history of activism dating back to at least the late 19th century—and they say they don't plan to give up anytime soon. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

When I asked Christine and Judy about HB2, aka the trans bathroom law—at a bar/music venue converted from an industrial garage in Durham, North Carolina, where the bathrooms are gender neutral and marked "Stalls only" and "Stalls and urinals" in protest of the law—Christine told me it bothered her that the South and North Carolina seemed to be viewed as a "conservative monolith." In fact, she and her tablemates informed me that Durham has been gay friendly since at least 1984, when the first of the bunch moved there. What impacts them and scares them more in liberal-majority Durham is all the anti-poor measures attached to the bill that were hidden behind the "smoke screen" of the bathroom and other anti-gay provisions. In Durham, gentrification is on steroids, "a tsunami of development money" is coming in, and housing costs and displacement are skyrocketing—however the conservative state legislature has been blocking the local government's efforts to have affordable housing policy, not to mention stricter gun access laws in this city with pretty high rates of gun violence. But the town has a strong history of activism dating back to at least the late 19th century—and they say they don't plan to give up anytime soon. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

8. Alex - Athens, Georgia

After college, Alex, age 14, would like to join the Peace Corps, then become a community organizer, before potentially running for office (which sounds a bit like the career path of a certain sitting President). He says he is more moderate than many of his friends in Athens, Georgia, who all supported Bernie, while he was firmly in camp Hillary. The reason? He "doesn't believe in utopia" or the world's perfectibility, and didn't think many of Bernie's positions were realistic, but he does believe in the importance of compromise and working across the aisle. His mom, Mona, said when he was 9, she and her husband took him and his little brother to the White House to show them they could live in any house in America. They also recently joined the country club in Athens, and are, as far as they know, the first family of color to do so. They were told the meeting on their membership sparked debate, but they are now regulars, learning to golf together, and having a grand ole time. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

After college, Alex, age 14, would like to join the Peace Corps, then become a community organizer, before potentially running for office (which sounds a bit like the career path of a certain sitting President). He says he is more moderate than many of his friends in Athens, Georgia, who all supported Bernie, while he was firmly in camp Hillary. The reason? He "doesn't believe in utopia" or the world's perfectibility, and didn't think many of Bernie's positions were realistic, but he does believe in the importance of compromise and working across the aisle. His mom, Mona, said when he was 9, she and her husband took him and his little brother to the White House to show them they could live in any house in America. They also recently joined the country club in Athens, and are, as far as they know, the first family of color to do so. They were told the meeting on their membership sparked debate, but they are now regulars, learning to golf together, and having a grand ole time. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

9. Cary - Greensboro, Georgia

Like his father and his father's grandfather before him, Cary is editor of Greensboro, Georgia's Herald Journal. He is mostly conservative, but says he and his paper are more concerned with local issues than national, which seems to be the case for most in this rural town of 3,000—papered in signs for local elections, with nary a one for President or Senate. In fact, Cary says he rarely hears anyone discuss Presidential politics here, as most people are more worried about their next pay check. Though he contends that those who do discuss it are like him, and would like to select "none of the above." However, he says come November, he will vote for one or the other major party candidate, and his choice will have a lot to do with who they select as VP. But he would much rather show me pictures of all the famous people he's met as they've passed through town during his decades as editor than discuss politics—including Kenny Rodgers, Mickey Mantel, and the man the character of Matlock was based on. And when I ask a few others about town their thoughts on the election, they launch right into their opinions on so and so running for Sheriff and the like and have little to say about the competition for Prez, though all, regardless of race, say they are Republican leaning. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Like his father and his father's grandfather before him, Cary is editor of Greensboro, Georgia's Herald Journal. He is mostly conservative, but says he and his paper are more concerned with local issues than national, which seems to be the case for most in this rural town of 3,000—papered in signs for local elections, with nary a one for President or Senate. In fact, Cary says he rarely hears anyone discuss Presidential politics here, as most people are more worried about their next pay check. Though he contends that those who do discuss it are like him, and would like to select "none of the above." However, he says come November, he will vote for one or the other major party candidate, and his choice will have a lot to do with who they select as VP. But he would much rather show me pictures of all the famous people he's met as they've passed through town during his decades as editor than discuss politics—including Kenny Rodgers, Mickey Mantel, and the man the character of Matlock was based on. And when I ask a few others about town their thoughts on the election, they launch right into their opinions on so and so running for Sheriff and the like and have little to say about the competition for Prez, though all, regardless of race, say they are Republican leaning. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

10. Mahogany - Savannah, Georgia

By the time she was 21, Mahogany, now 33, had built a regional reputation for her dancing and choreography skills, and frequently got calls from people who'd say "I hear you're the baddest thing on two legs in Savannah" and invite her to other states for gigs. She quickly accrued more money than she knew what to do with—though she says she was far from rich—but like 26% of people in this beautiful, Spanish-moss covered city, she grew up poor. And when people would say to her, you're lucky, you got out, she'd say, "It's not luck, I just made better choices." And that was that, and she was happy to be "out." But then, about five years ago, she said she woke up to a voice telling her she needed to do more. And though she's not religious, she decided to listen. Remembering that when she was growing up, she was hungriest on weekends, when she couldn't get a meal at school, she started a non-profit providing food to low-income kids in Savannah on weekends. Her org, Blessing in a Bookbag, is one of numerous small non-profits in the city working together to change the entrenched, elite-run system in this small city that seems impenetrable to outsiders, and hasn't changed much since, well, anyone can remember. But these young people are ever so slowly starting to get the ear of the powers that be by engaging them and listening and asking them to do the same. Mahogany really dislikes Donald Trump, but isn't sure she'll vote for President, in part because, at the end of the day, she believes "America is more sexist than racist" (though she says it's plenty racist too), and thinks that if Obama couldn't get stuff through Congress, Hillary certainly won't. But in Savannah, you can find her every weekend standing outside a tent, even in 95 degree heat, and believing in and fighting for local change and progress. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

By the time she was 21, Mahogany, now 33, had built a regional reputation for her dancing and choreography skills, and frequently got calls from people who'd say "I hear you're the baddest thing on two legs in Savannah" and invite her to other states for gigs. She quickly accrued more money than she knew what to do with—though she says she was far from rich—but like 26% of people in this beautiful, Spanish-moss covered city, she grew up poor. And when people would say to her, you're lucky, you got out, she'd say, "It's not luck, I just made better choices." And that was that, and she was happy to be "out." But then, about five years ago, she said she woke up to a voice telling her she needed to do more. And though she's not religious, she decided to listen. Remembering that when she was growing up, she was hungriest on weekends, when she couldn't get a meal at school, she started a non-profit providing food to low-income kids in Savannah on weekends. Her org, Blessing in a Bookbag, is one of numerous small non-profits in the city working together to change the entrenched, elite-run system in this small city that seems impenetrable to outsiders, and hasn't changed much since, well, anyone can remember. But these young people are ever so slowly starting to get the ear of the powers that be by engaging them and listening and asking them to do the same.

Mahogany really dislikes Donald Trump, but isn't sure she'll vote for President, in part because, at the end of the day, she believes "America is more sexist than racist" (though she says it's plenty racist too), and thinks that if Obama couldn't get stuff through Congress, Hillary certainly won't. But in Savannah, you can find her every weekend standing outside a tent, even in 95 degree heat, and believing in and fighting for local change and progress. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

11. Lucinda - Pensacola, Florida

Lucinda first moved to Pensacola, Florida—in the state's panhandle just across the Alabama border—at age 18 with her first husband, who was enlisting in the navy there. She had met him while working as the sole female pilot at an aviation company in the south of the state. Later, they divorced and she put herself through vet school, opened her own practice—which she just retired from—and started the coastal community's first wild life refuge. And back in the early days of the refuge, she often spent her nights trying to catch and transport troublesome gators or rescue injured heron. For President, she supported Ted Cruz. She knows he's not great on protecting the environment, which is disappointing to her, but she thinks, in 2016, improving our economy by bringing back the good jobs that have vanished from the area and preventing domestic attacks from ISIS and the lot are more pressing. She thinks Cruz is the man for the job because he will engender respect abroad and because he cares about American values and the Constitution at a time when something about the country is slipping away. What does she mean by American values? Well not stopping gay marriage. "I think gay rights are incredibly important, and I absolutely think gay people should have the right to marry," she says, though she thinks states should make the decision not the Feds. She also says she's a fan of going to the local WalMart and seeing families of all races and creeds. "I don't know," she says of what about America is being lost. "It just feels like play dough, where its growing soft in the center and slowly dissolving over the edges." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Lucinda first moved to Pensacola, Florida—in the state's panhandle just across the Alabama border—at age 18 with her first husband, who was enlisting in the navy there. She had met him while working as the sole female pilot at an aviation company in the south of the state. Later, they divorced and she put herself through vet school, opened her own practice—which she just retired from—and started the coastal community's first wild life refuge. And back in the early days of the refuge, she often spent her nights trying to catch and transport troublesome gators or rescue injured heron. For President, she supported Ted Cruz. She knows he's not great on protecting the environment, which is disappointing to her, but she thinks, in 2016, improving our economy by bringing back the good jobs that have vanished from the area and preventing domestic attacks from ISIS and the lot are more pressing. She thinks Cruz is the man for the job because he will engender respect abroad and because he cares about American values and the Constitution at a time when something about the country is slipping away. What does she mean by American values? Well not stopping gay marriage. "I think gay rights are incredibly important, and I absolutely think gay people should have the right to marry," she says, though she thinks states should make the decision not the Feds. She also says she's a fan of going to the local WalMart and seeing families of all races and creeds. "I don't know," she says of what about America is being lost. "It just feels like play dough, where its growing soft in the center and slowly dissolving over the edges." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

12. Shiela - Mobile, Alabama

Sheila, age 65, is a committed member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Mobile, Alabama. She is also a mother of four and grandmother of five, and prone to tearing up when talking about her love of this country or telling me the story of a girl who immigrated to Mobile from China and just won this year's national Daughter's of The American Revolution scholarship for $175,000. She tells me how hard the young woman worked to not only learn English and excel at school, but become a leader in her community. Sheila believes America is and has always been a melting pot, and that it's people like this hardworking girl who have made the country great. However, while she celebrates ongoing legal immigration, at a time when jobs and resources in Mobile and throughout her region are so scarce, she thinks we have to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and supports building a wall. She does not particularly like Trump, but says if there is no good third party option, she will vote for the candidate dedicated to plugging our borders and stopping the flow of jobs overseas. She then proceeds to tell me the history of the palatial old Italianate home and museum we are sitting in, which the DAR took over after the city determined it could no longer afford to maintain it during a previous recession some time ago. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Sheila, age 65, is a committed member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Mobile, Alabama. She is also a mother of four and grandmother of five, and prone to tearing up when talking about her love of this country or telling me the story of a girl who immigrated to Mobile from China and just won this year's national Daughter's of The American Revolution scholarship for $175,000. She tells me how hard the young woman worked to not only learn English and excel at school, but become a leader in her community. Sheila believes America is and has always been a melting pot, and that it's people like this hardworking girl who have made the country great. However, while she celebrates ongoing legal immigration, at a time when jobs and resources in Mobile and throughout her region are so scarce, she thinks we have to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and supports building a wall. She does not particularly like Trump, but says if there is no good third party option, she will vote for the candidate dedicated to plugging our borders and stopping the flow of jobs overseas. She then proceeds to tell me the history of the palatial old Italianate home and museum we are sitting in, which the DAR took over after the city determined it could no longer afford to maintain it during a previous recession some time ago. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

13. Leroy - New Orleans, Louisiana

Leroy, age 77 (though he generally tells folks he's 65), grew up in New Orleans in the days of segregation, when black people had to march in a separate Mardi Gras parade. Then, in 1968, after a 10 year stint in the military, during which he was deployed in Korea, he came home to a newly integrated parade and immediately joined the Zulu Krewe. And just this year he relinquished his coveted position as a float captain. "I love being out there and giving to the people. We're the most anticipated group, and we wear people out. After we pass by they go home because they're tired," he says. And that's been a big theme in his life, service and giving back to the community and country he sees as having given him so much—including through the military, which he successfully encouraged both his son and daughter to join. However, though he now marches down Canal Street in the main parade, he says too little else has changed in his city. And in fact, since Katrina, which scattered and broke up communities and systems of support, he thinks things have gotten worse—a phenomenon not helped by the fact that, due to gentrification, many displaced people can't afford to move back into their old neighborhoods. As for politics, he says the divisiveness is the worst he's seen in his eight decades, which he attributes to the fact that Republicans seem to want to block everything Obama suggests, adding "I think it's because he's a black man." What does America need? "To listen to each other. People need to sit down and listen to the other side." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Leroy, age 77 (though he generally tells folks he's 65), grew up in New Orleans in the days of segregation, when black people had to march in a separate Mardi Gras parade. Then, in 1968, after a 10 year stint in the military, during which he was deployed in Korea, he came home to a newly integrated parade and immediately joined the Zulu Krewe. And just this year he relinquished his coveted position as a float captain. "I love being out there and giving to the people. We're the most anticipated group, and we wear people out. After we pass by they go home because they're tired," he says. And that's been a big theme in his life, service and giving back to the community and country he sees as having given him so much—including through the military, which he successfully encouraged both his son and daughter to join. However, though he now marches down Canal Street in the main parade, he says too little else has changed in his city. And in fact, since Katrina, which scattered and broke up communities and systems of support, he thinks things have gotten worse—a phenomenon not helped by the fact that, due to gentrification, many displaced people can't afford to move back into their old neighborhoods. As for politics, he says the divisiveness is the worst he's seen in his eight decades, which he attributes to the fact that Republicans seem to want to block everything Obama suggests, adding "I think it's because he's a black man." What does America need? "To listen to each other. People need to sit down and listen to the other side." #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

14. Diana - Thibodaux, Louisiana

Diana, age 56, grew up and continues to live on the Louisiana bayou, steps from its storied, marshy waters—and her rural backyard is filled with caged giant snapping turtles, snakes, and gators for passing tourists to peruse. How did she come to offer this service? When she was a teenager, she lived in the United Arab Emirates for three years, where her sister's husband was working for an oil company. While there, she realized her culture, Cajun culture, has much to offer, but was little known, not only to the world, but to Americans. And so after returning to Louisiana, she worked with the local college to set up a Cajun studies class—and opened up shop. She says her people on the bayou are of a lower socio-economic status than much of the country, and she therefore supports the services and government programs that help them get by. She sees pluses to both Trump and Hillary, and remains undecided about the election. She thinks that Hillary's policies are better, but in her neck of the woods (or bayou), people really like Trump and think he's on their side, and she thinks as a result, the country and Congress are more likely to get behind him and end the status quo of rancor and division. She also thinks he will be better for the economy, as a successful business man. However, she doesn't like his immigration policies, and sees that as the biggest mark in the column against voting for him. Regardless, she plans to remain on the Bayou, offering up a slice of her culture to anyone who passes by. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

Diana, age 56, grew up and continues to live on the Louisiana bayou, steps from its storied, marshy waters—and her rural backyard is filled with caged giant snapping turtles, snakes, and gators for passing tourists to peruse. How did she come to offer this service? When she was a teenager, she lived in the United Arab Emirates for three years, where her sister's husband was working for an oil company. While there, she realized her culture, Cajun culture, has much to offer, but was little known, not only to the world, but to Americans. And so after returning to Louisiana, she worked with the local college to set up a Cajun studies class—and opened up shop. She says her people on the bayou are of a lower socio-economic status than much of the country, and she therefore supports the services and government programs that help them get by. She sees pluses to both Trump and Hillary, and remains undecided about the election. She thinks that Hillary's policies are better, but in her neck of the woods (or bayou), people really like Trump and think he's on their side, and she thinks as a result, the country and Congress are more likely to get behind him and end the status quo of rancor and division. She also thinks he will be better for the economy, as a successful business man. However, she doesn't like his immigration policies, and sees that as the biggest mark in the column against voting for him. Regardless, she plans to remain on the Bayou, offering up a slice of her culture to anyone who passes by. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

15. Larry - New Iberia, Louisiana

When I met Larry Rader at New Iberia, Louisiana's 4th of July parade, the first thing he told me was that he was poised to make history. He's running for U.S. Congress from Louisiana's 3rd district, and if he wins, he will be the first person of color to ever take the seat, which represents the largely rural, very Cajun southwest part of the state near the Texas border. He tells me he's pretty moderate for a Democrat, stating that he's Pro Life from birth to death—meaning he is against the death penalty as well as abortion. The biggest issues in his district, as he sees it, are unequal pay for women—as many households in the area are female headed; diversifying the largely oil-based economy (which isn't doing so hot with current oil prices); dealing with rising and rampant drug use and an epidemic of suicide; and a mistrust of police, especially among minorities. He tells me that the former Sheriff in New Iberia was caught on tape beating up several young black men while they were in a jail cell—for no apparent reason—and that he tear gassed a house party in the black part of town that was filled with families and young children—with no repercussions. "I think I have a good chance," he says of the election, despite the fact that the district is Republican leaning. "People are sick of the dysfunction in Washington, and of the way things are here. They want a change." And with that, he takes his leave to chat up two elderly white women wearing Stars and Stripes T shirts and waving little American flags happily in his direction as he strolls over to say hello. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016
Lucile Scott

When I met Larry Rader at New Iberia, Louisiana's 4th of July parade, the first thing he told me was that he was poised to make history. He's running for U.S. Congress from Louisiana's 3rd district, and if he wins, he will be the first person of color to ever take the seat, which represents the largely rural, very Cajun southwest part of the state near the Texas border. He tells me he's pretty moderate for a Democrat, stating that he's Pro Life from birth to death—meaning he is against the death penalty as well as abortion. The biggest issues in his district, as he sees it, are unequal pay for women—as many households in the area are female headed; diversifying the largely oil-based economy (which isn't doing so hot with current oil prices); dealing with rising and rampant drug use and an epidemic of suicide; and a mistrust of police, especially among minorities. He tells me that the former Sheriff in New Iberia was caught on tape beating up several young black men while they were in a jail cell—for no apparent reason—and that he tear gassed a house party in the black part of town that was filled with families and young children—with no repercussions. "I think I have a good chance," he says of the election, despite the fact that the district is Republican leaning. "People are sick of the dysfunction in Washington, and of the way things are here. They want a change." And with that, he takes his leave to chat up two elderly white women wearing Stars and Stripes T shirts and waving little American flags happily in his direction as he strolls over to say hello. #SearchingForPurpleAmerica #election2016

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