• Glimpses

    Have You Ever Stared Into an Alpaca’s Soul?

    Photographer Traer Scott Views Livestock as Individuals Rather Than Numbers

    Have you ever felt the direct, penetrating gaze of an alpaca? Or admired the symmetry of a sheep’s fuzzy nose? Or rued the fact that you had never stroked a goose’s long neck? And are there any pigs whose eyelashes you envy? If the answer is yes, photographer Traer Scott’s ...

  • Essay

    How Americans Learned to Condemn Drunk Driving

    In the 1980s, Liberal Activists and Anti-Drug Conservatives Joined Forces to Override a Libertarian Ethos

    By Barron H. Lerner

    At a traffic safety conference in 1980, a Californian named Candy Lightner delivered her first public speech about a 13-year-old freckle-faced girl who had recently ...

  • Essay

    Why Do So Many Nevadans Still Die on the Job?

    Decades After 187 Laborers Perished at the Hoover Dam Construction Site, the State's Safety Rules Are Out of Sync With Modern Workplaces

    By Michelle Follette Turk

    In the span of 18 months in 2007 and 2008, Nevada was the scene of 12 worker fatalities at casino construction sites. The disasters were not small: A 7,300-pound ...

New at Zócalo


The Escaped Slave Who Discovered America

Esteban, a Captive of Spanish Explorers, Led an Eight-Year, 3,500-Mile Trek Across the Southwest and Mexico

By Dennis Herrick

    “The first white man our people saw was a black man,” wrote historian and Pueblo native Joe Sando in Pueblo Nations.
    Sando was referring to Esteban, an African who became the first non-Indian to enter what is now Arizona and New Mexico in 1539. Esteban made his way to the Southwestern corner of the what is now the United States 46 years before the first English-speaking colonists crossed the Atlantic.
    African involvement in America’s history goes back further than most Americans realize. Although history has mainly forgotten them, an unknown number of Spanish-owned black slaves escaped into the East Coast wilderness from Spanish ships in the early 1500s. Black slaves and free Africans also went with conquistador Juan Ponce de León when he sailed to Florida in 1513 and 1521. ...

Connecting California

The Small California Farm Town That Puts Kids First

Against All Odds, Gonzales—Population 9,000—Offers Services That Touch the Lives of All Its Young People

By Joe Mathews

    What if California actually decided to put the needs of its poor kids first? What would that look like?
    Here’s one answer: it might look like Gonzales, a small city of 9,000 people—many of them farmworkers—along Highway 101 in the Salinas Valley.
    The people of Gonzales don’t have educational credentials (less than 10 percent of adults over 25 have a college degree) or wealth (the median income is less than $17,000 annually). But they do have one incredible resource: youth. Thirty-six percent of the population is under the age of 18, and about 1,000 of the 9,000 residents are under age five. More than 85 percent of the Gonzales Unified School District qualifies for free and reduced lunch.
    Very much against the odds, Gonzales ...


  • By Louise Mathias

    Our contract was balletic—
    you took from me the rabbits spooked
    inside their still damp nest.
    Then, you were a room ...

  • By Rita O'Connell

    Never much good at judging distances
    or my own physical strength, I imagine
    this morning that I ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews