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In September 1991, the Imperial Food Products plant in Hamlet, North Carolina exploded in flames. Twenty-five people lost their lives in the blaze; most were trapped inside the factory behind locked doors. In this lecture, historian Bryant Simon will explore the deep political, social, and economic causes of the fire: causes that made Imperial workers and their community acutely vulnerable and made the accident that happened there, or one like it, a near inevitability.
Bryant Simon is Professor of History at Temple University. He is the author of Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America (Oxford University Press, 2004) and Everything But the Coffee: Learning About America from Starbucks (University of California Press, 2009). His research and scholarship has earned awards and honors from the Fulbright Commission, Humboldt Foundation, Urban History Association, Organization of American Historians, and the Smithsonian Institution. His work has been featured in the New Yorker, Washington Post, and The New Republic.