Much of [David] Simon’s work focuses on the troubles of low-income African Americans, be they heroin dealers or trombone players. It’s a preoccupation he shares with a long line of American Jewish social activists and cultural figures, from early abolitionists to the Jews who helped found the NAACP to the Jewish Freedom Riders murdered in the early 1960s. When I bring that up, though, Simon brushes aside the comparison. “The Freedom Riders and NAACP founders were doing something far more substantive, and in the case of the Freedom Riders, risking far, far more,” he says. “I wouldn’t put myself in that category under any circumstances.”
Nonetheless, he’s very conscious of that history.