UK Happenings

‘Poverty, Faith, and McDonald's’: Lewis Honors College Speaker Series Welcomes Chris Arnade

photo of Chris Arnade
Chris Arnade hopes to provide the UK community with perspective and parallels when sharing about his experiences with some of the nation’s more underprivileged populations. Photo provided.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2021) — Tomorrow, the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College Speaker Series will welcome photographer and author of “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America,” Chris Arnade.

The in-person event will take place 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, in the Lewis Honors College Scholars Lounge. It is open to the entire UK community.

The purpose of the Lewis Honors College Speaker Series is to better prepare the Lewis Honors College students for the challenges and opportunities of life by covering topics including self-awareness, personal values, character development, leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, financial literacy, career planning, success and happiness; and to educate the Lewis Honors College students regarding the American values of individual liberty, free enterprise, personal responsibility, faith, family, patriotism, intellectual diversity, community engagement and civic responsibility.

Arnade is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among many others. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University and worked for 20 years as a trader at an elite Wall Street bank before leaving in 2012 to document addiction in the Bronx.

After leaving Wall Street, Arnade began interviewing, photographing and becoming close friends with displaced individuals battling poverty and addiction. After his time in the Bronx, he started driving across America to see what these communities looked like across the country. Arnade shares the similarities in stories everywhere, across lines of race, ethnicity, religion and geography. 

Arnade developed a new respect for the dignity and resilience of the people he met throughout the country who are members of what he calls “America’s Back Row,” a term he describes as those who are without the credentials and advantages of the so-called meritocratic upper class. During his travels, Arnade also began to notice that McDonald’s was a central part of the lives of many of these “back row” communities.

As a speaker in the Lewis Honors College Speaker Series, Arnade hopes to provide students with perspective and parallels when sharing about his experiences with some of the nation’s more underprivileged populations.

“I am hoping to give the students a perspective of the frustrations of working class Americans beyond the borders of Kentucky. Frustrations that they will find similar to the ones from their hometowns, despite the differences in place,” Arnade said.

For more information on the event, visit

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