Award-winning ethnographic researcher, author to speak at RIC, Nov. 30

Timothy Black (Photo: Chion Wolf)
Timothy Black, a professor of sociology at the University of Hartford, will speak about his book, “When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets," at RIC on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 12:30 p.m. in Fogarty Life Science 50.

The book focuses on the life of the Riveras, a Puerto Rican family in Springfield, Mass., at the turn of the 21st century. Black did an unprecedented 18-year study that involved three brothers that inspired the book.

The brothers consist of Fausto, in prison for seven years and in-and-out of drug treatment; Julio, a former gang member turned truck driver and Sammy, father of four and a recovering drug addict caught between the worlds of recovery and relapse.

Black closely observed street life in Springfield for almost two decades, noting the drug trade and treatment programs, courtrooms, prisons and other places and objects in the area. The book describes drug addiction, the streets, prison, the struggle for employment and education, and how this environment has shaped people’s lives.

“When a Heart Turns Rock Solid” has won several awards, including the 2011 Mirra Komarovsky Book Award of the Eastern Sociological Society, selection by The Washington Post and Booklist as one of the best books of 2009, and best book of the year by the Association of Humanist Sociology in 2010.

Black is the director of the Center for Social Research at the University of Hartford. His research at the center has focused on families and children, and he is currently co-authoring a book on adolescent mothers in Connecticut and completing research on low-income fathers there.

This event is sponsored by the College Lectures Fund.

For more information, contact Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur at