In January The Washington Post published a powerful three-part series looking at the plight of the black middle class in America. The series focuses on Maryland’s Prince George’s County—the most affluent majority-black county in America, as well as one of the counties hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. At the heart of the series is a singular, vexing question: “Why don’t black middle-class families enjoy the same level of economic security as their white counterparts?”

1. “The American Dream Shatters in Prince George’s County” (Michael A. Fletcher, January 24, 2015)

“But today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason — its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs. And while every one of these surrounding counties is enjoying a strong rebound in housing prices and their economies, Prince George’s is lagging far behind, and local economists say a full recovery appears unlikely anytime soon.”

2.“In Fairwood, Dreams of Black Wealth Foundered Amid the Mortgage Meltdown” (Kimbriell Kelly, John Sullivan, Steven Rich, January 25, 2015)

“On some blocks in Fairwood, nearly every house went under. On Burkes Promise Drive, an arcing street of broad lawns, 20 of the 34 homes fell into foreclosure. Neighbors awoke each day to the tell-tale signs: rental trucks in driveways and piles of old furniture, strollers and garbage bags dumped on the curbs.”

3. “Distressed Family Swamped by an Underwater Home” (Kimbriell Kelly, January 26, 2015)

“A decade ago, Comfort and Kofi were at the apex of an astonishing journey they had made from Ghana in 1997, when they had won a visa lottery to come to America. They did not know it at the time, but they were also at the midpoint in their odyssey from American Dream to American Nightmare.”

The Post has also provided a short explanation of how they gathered and analyzed their data, which can be found here.