Features by Melanie Burford

The Monster Under the Water by Melanie Burford

In the first weeks after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded last April 20, Jason Melerine, like most Louisiana fishermen, feared the worst: that the cocktail of oil and dispersant would immediately kill the state’s already fragile fishing industry. His worry consumed him. He pulled patches of hair from his chin and his leg. He landed in the hospital with migraines. He contemplated suicide.
“For us, it’s a life, it’s what we love to do,” said Melerine, whose four children eat crab so often they complain about it. “It’s what we know to do. Water is my life.”

A Mother’s Will by Melanie Burford

Four-year-old Michelle was raped, the offender spent a year in Juvenile Detention. Juli, Michelle’s mother, was forced to quit her factory job and try to put her daughter’s life back together. The only job that gave Juli the time to be with Michelle was driving a school bus where they spend most of their time together, almost seven hours each day. This is about the lengths a mother goes to to protect her child. In a broader sense it’s about what parents are willing to sacrifice for their children. “She’s my everything. She’s the reason… read more.

The Fight for Sugar Hill by Melanie Burford

Sugar Hill is a housing project in Texas’ richest county that has endured 40 years of economic and racial isolation. Rock Carpenter is a struggling pastor drawn inside the gates by a stubborn faith. This photographic narrative follows the Jacksons, a family who was part of his ministry, for three years through the illness and death of their matriarch, Gloria, and their constant struggle against poverty.

Blind Faith by Melanie Burford

James McCray and 19 dejected family members fled New Orleans, chased by the rising waters from Hurricane Katrina. They arrive in Dallas, exhausted, lost, until they meet Sue Sandford, the single mother of four who took them in from a shelter and was ultimately swept into the force that was the McCray family. Within days, the two families from radically different backgrounds would form a lasting bond. The McCrays find themselves determined but scarred, much like the city itself, trying to steady themselves and rebuild the happy lives they led before Katrina washed away everything. Fractured… read more.

Dressed for Success by Melanie Burford

It’s like Christmas for college football fans. Signing Day is the first day a high school senior can sign a binding letter of intent to play college football for a school. No day – other than the NFL Draft – pumps up fans so much with the chance to see all the great talent their school brought into the program. Young athletes from South Dallas show off their designer clothes before signing their scholarships with top universities across the nation. To the students, signing day is more important than prom. It’s the day to celebrate… read more.