“Lessons from North Carolina” is a phrase that in a recent political context seems unlikely to be edifying. After all, the last 12 years have seen our state transmogrify into an exemplar of modern-day retrogression.

But somehow Gene Nichol has managed to write a book with this title that conveys an uplifting civic credo. His book is above all an expression of grief. And grief, with wrenching pain, brings wisdom and grace.

Alexander H. Jones is a Policy Analyst with Carolina Forward. He lives in Carrboro. Have feedback? Reach him at alex@carolinaforward.org.