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CSEM documentary shows day in the life of local bus rider

Brittany Marshall and son board a bus in downtown Winston-Salem
Brittany Marshall and her son board a bus in downtown Winston-Salem in a scene from "Bus Stop Jobs," a documentary produced by the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility.

A new documentary from Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) is shining a light on the challenges Winston-Salem workers face without a car.

“Bus Stop Jobs,” an 11-minute documentary, shows a day in the life of Brittany Marshall, a resident of East Winston and mother of a school-aged son who relies on the city’s bus system to get to and from work.

Marshall, a contract worker with Wells Fargo in Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter, gets up before dawn most days to catch the bus. After work, she walks a half-mile to her son’s day care center. Then, she and her son walk to the bus stop for the trip home.

The documentary, produced by local filmmaker Diana Greene, premiered at the Forsyth County Central Library on Tuesday, Aug. 21, to a capacity audience of about 140 people. A Q&A with Marshall and Greene followed the premiere.

“We set out to illustrate how some of most ambitious people in Winston-Salem face extraordinary challenges if they do not own a car," said Dr. Craig Richardson, professor of economics and founding director of CSEM. "We want our city to be known for trying new ideas that not only help the tech sector, but also some of its hardest working individuals, like Brittany Marshall.”

During the documentary, Marshall also received a surprise: a Winston-Salem-based non-profit organization is helping her secure a vehicle.

Next Steps

CSEM is continuing the conversation on bus transportation by conducting a survey of 180 employed Winston-Salem bus riders. Richardson announced the survey at the premiere. Results of the survey will be published in late December.

Richardson said CSEM has heard from a number of city organizations that are interested in showing the documentary, including the City of Winston-Salem, Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, Wells Fargo and some churches. 

According to a 2015 study by economist Raj Chetty, children from low-income families in Forsyth County are less likely to move up the income ladder as adults compared to kids almost anywhere else in the United States. Only two counties in South Dakota are worse. CSEM aims to create and disseminate research that will inform change that will reverse decades of economic immobility in Forsyth County.

About CSEM
The Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) launched in September 2017 with a $3 million grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), an initiative supported by The Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries.  The CAO focuses on researching barriers to opportunity in fragile communities. WSSU is one of three CAO centers. Learn more at www.wssu.edu/csem or csem@wssu.edu.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

Audience watches documentary
Brittany Marshall (center), who is featured in "Bus Stop Jobs," holds the hand of filmmaker Diana Greene as she watches the film during the premiere on Aug. 21. 

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