A native son of Chicago, John W. Fountain is an award-winning journalist, professor and author of the memoir, True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith Hope and Clarity (Public Affairs, 2003), paperback March 2005.
Fountain is currently a professor of journalism at Roosevelt University in Chicago. In a journalism career that has spanned 20 years, Fountain has been a reporter at some of the top newspapers
in this country. From 2000 to 2003, he was a national correspondent for The New York Times. Based in Chicago, Fountain covered a 12-state region. He also has been a staff writer at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, Modesto Bee, Pioneer Press Newspapers in suburban Chicago and the Champaign News-Gazette.
He was formerly a tenured full professor at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and visiting scholar at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston. In addition to working as a national correspondent, Fountain has been a crime and courts reporter as well as a general assignment reporter and features writer.
Fountain grew up on some of the meanest streets in Chicago, where drugs, crime, decay, and broken homes consigned so many black children to a life of despair and self-destruction. A father at seventeen, a college dropout at nineteen, a welfare case soon after, Fountain was on the verge of giving up all hope. One thing saved him—his faith, his own true vine.
True Vine is his remarkable story—of his childhood in a neighborhood heading south; of his strong-willed grandparents, who founded a church (called True Vine) that sought to bring the word of God to their neighbors; of his mother, herself a teenage parent, whose truncated dreams help nurture bigger dreams in him; of his friends and cousins, whose youthful exuberance was extinguished by the burdens they faced; and of his religious awakening that gave him the determination to rebuild his life.
He is at work on his second book, “Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood”— a project spawned by an essay he wrote for National Public Radio’ “This I Believe” book—featuring Fountain’s own writings on the issue of “fatherlessness” and also featuring a compilation of essays from noted journalists and writers around the country. Fountain also is at work on two other book projects, “No Place for Me: A Letter to the Church at America” and “A Mighty Burning Fire,” a book of essays.