civil rights

Joseph Crespino is the Jimmy Carter Professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of "In Search of Another Country," winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council, and "Strom Thurmond's America."

The publication of "Go Set a Watchman" in 2015 forever changed how we think about Atticus Finch. Once seen as a paragon of decency, he was reduced to a small-town racist. How are we to understand this transformation?

In "Atticus Finch," historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee's father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions.

The struggle to desegregate America's schools was a grassroots movement, and young women were its vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents began to file desegregation lawsuits with their daughters, forcing Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lawyers to take up the issue and bring it to the Supreme Court. After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, girls far outnumbered boys in volunteering to desegregate formerly all-white schools.

In "A Girl Stands at the Door," historian Rachel Devlin tells the remarkable stories of these desegregation pioneers. She also explains why black girls were seen, and saw themselves, as responsible for the difficult work of reaching across the color line in public schools. 

Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, flanked by Earthjustice Attorney Chris Amato and BeBe White, president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A Democratic Albany County legislator has proposed a resolution that would make Albany a sanctuary county.

While Joe Kennedy was grooming his sons for the White House and the Senate, his Stanford-educated daughter Eunice was tapping her father’s fortune and her brothers’ political power to engineer one of the great civil rights movements of our time on behalf of millions of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Now, in "Eunice," Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen McNamara finally brings Eunice Kennedy Shriver out from her brothers’ shadow.

"Fragile Explosion: Nina Simone" is a world premiere production by Passing the Torch Through the Arts.

Nina Simone, known as The High Priestess of Soul, was a pop star and celebrity in the 1960s. Her career was up-ended because of her key role in the Civil Rights movement. “Fragile Explosion” follows Simone from her beginnings in North Carolina to international stardom, through successes and personal failures, and through her struggle with and triumph over mental illness.

James F. Simon is dean emeritus at New York Law School. He is the author of nine books on American history, law, and politics, and has won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award.

His new book, "Eisenhower vs. Warren: The Battle for Civil Rights and Liberties," brings to life the bitter feud between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chief Justice Earl Warren framed the tumultuous future of the modern civil rights movement.

Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” has made its way to the number one spot on the New York Times bestsellers list.

She tells her story of being a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Marc Perrusquia is a journalist for The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, where he has worked the past twenty-nine years.

Renowned photographer Ernest Withers captured some of the most stunning moments of the civil rights era, from the age-defining snapshot of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., riding one of the first integrated buses in Montgomery, to the haunting photo of Emmett Till’s great-uncle pointing an accusing finger at his nephew’s killers. He was trusted and beloved by King’s inner circle, and had a front row seat to history but few people know that Withers was also an informant for the FBI.

William I. Hitchcock is a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the Randolph Compton Professor at the Miller Center for Public Affairs.

In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. In his new book, "The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s," historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times.

"Down the Up Staircase" tells the story of one Harlem family across three generations, connecting its journey to the historical and social forces that transformed Harlem over the past century.

Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch capture the tides of change that pushed blacks forward through the twentieth century as well as the many forces that ravaged black communities, including Haynes's own.

As an authority on race and urban communities, Haynes brings unique sociological insights to the American mobility saga and the tenuous nature of status and success among the black middle class. Bruce Haynes joins us.

The 17th Annual Underground Railroad History Project’s public convention is taking place in Albany, NY today through Sunday.  LibertyCon 2018 is entitled “Embracing Equity in a Global Society.”

The conference features workshops, exhibits, vendors, art, discussions and presentations.

Tonight’s opening speakers are Thomas DeWolf and Sharon Morgan – co-authors of “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” – they join us along with Mary Liz Stewart, Co-founder and Executive Director of Underground Railroad History Project.

Nobody expected the vice president, a New York political hack, to be president. And after President James A. Garfield was shot in 1881, nobody expected Chester A. Arthur to become a strong and effective president, a courageous anti-corruption reformer, and an early civil rights advocate.

Despite his promising start as a young man, by his early fifties Chester A. Arthur was known as the crooked crony of New York machine boss Roscoe Conkling. For years Arthur had been perceived as unfit to govern, not only by critics and the vast majority of his fellow citizens but by his own conscience. As President James A. Garfield struggled for his life, Arthur knew better than his detractors that he failed to meet the high standard a president must uphold.

Scott S. Greenberger is a journalist, author and the executive editor of Stateline, the daily news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts. His newest book is "The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur." Greenberger will be at Union College in Schenectady, NY on Thursday, February 22nd - to deliver the college’s Founders Day keynote address.

Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law, where he specializes in American constitutional law. His scholarship has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Atlantic, Slate, and Scotusblog.

In "We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights," Winkler reveals how American businesses won equal rights and transformed the Constitution to serve the ends of capital. Corporations - like minorities and women - have had a civil rights movement of their own, and now possess nearly all the same rights as ordinary people.

W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the most important African-American activists during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the NAACP, supported Pan-Africanism, and was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts 150 years ago this month and Great Barrington's Du Bois anniversary celebration began on January 15 and will continue throughout 2018.

Here to tell us more are Dennis Powell, President of the Berkshire County Branch NAACP;and member of the Steering Committee Du Bois Lecture Series; Professor Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst; Ted Thomas, poet and teacher who directs the student Du Bois spoken word programs; and Barbara Dean, musician, performer, and radio DJ who has worked on Du Bois issues and promotion in Great Barrington for about three decades.

Ruby Sales
Nikki Khan / Getty Images

Civil rights legend and educator Ruby Sales will be at the Rowe Center in Rowe, MA in a program titled: Where Does it Hurt?: Overcoming the Pain of White Supremacy. The session will be made up of soul-searching conversations on white supremacy and systematic oppression to come away with a radical new spiritual perspective on the tasks before us.

Ruby Sales believes all Americans are hurt by a racist system that continues to oppress people of color.  For this nation to survive, she says, we must forge new ways of honestly talking about how this brutal reality affects whites as well as blacks.  A new language is needed, she says, that incorporates not only our outrage at the harm that has been done, but also a vision of love through which we could become a new people — the America still waiting to be born. 

John A. Farrell is the author of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, and Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. A longtime journalist, he worked at The Denver Post and at The Boston Globe, where he served as White House correspondent and on the vaunted Spotlight team.

His book is Richard Nixon: The Life.

William Kunstler was an American radical lawyer and civil rights activist, known for his politically unpopular clients. He was an active member of the National Lawyers Guild, a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union and the co-founder of the Law Center for Constitutional Rights. Kunstler's defense of the Chicago Seven from 1969–1970 led The New York Times to label him "the country's most controversial and, perhaps, its best-known lawyer."

Starting later this week, Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA will present The Creative Place International/And Theatre Company production of Kunstler starring Jeff McCarthy in the title role. The show will run on BSC’s St. Germain Stage through June 10th. It is directed by Meagen Fay.

Jeff McCarthy is a Tony Award nominated actor and Associate Artist at Barrington Stage and he joins us.

Greg Iles’ Natchez trilogy has been compared to Faulkner and Conroy – the greatest Southern Gothic writers.

The themes in the trilogy include race issues in the south, past and present, the legacy of a father, small town relationships and unattainable love. The culmination of the trilogy, Mississippi Blood, is now out. 

After sitting at the feet of Martin Luther King at the University of Michigan in 1963, Larry Brilliant was swept up into the civil rights movement, marching and protesting across America and Europe. As a radical young doctor he followed the hippie trail from London over the Khyber Pass with his wife Girija, Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm commune to India. There, he found himself in a Himalayan ashram wondering whether he had stumbled into a cult. Instead, one of India’s greatest spiritual teachers, Neem Karoli Baba, opened Larry’s heart and told him his destiny was to work for the World Health Organization to help eradicate killer smallpox. He would never have believed he would become a key player in eliminating a 10,000-year-old disease that killed more than half a billion people in the 20th century alone.

He's led a Forrest Gumpian life and his story is recounted in his new book, Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History.

"We stand for the JCC because the JCC is us and we are the JCC. This city will not tolerate hate. " ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

In recent days, two separate bomb threats, both unfounded, have been called into the Albany Jewish Community Center. Activists and religious leaders, government officials, concerned citizens and neighbors gathered early Thursday evening on the grounds of the Whitehall Road facility in a show of solidarity.

Jon Else joins us this morning to tell us tell the inside story of Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history.

His new book is True South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and cinematographer for Eyes on the Prize.

The book focuses on the tumultuous 18 months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes was created. True South is being published on the 30th anniversary of Eyes’ initial broadcast on PBS, which reached 100 million viewers. 

The life story of Coretta Scott King—wife of Martin Luther King Jr., founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center), and singular twentieth-century American civil and human rights activist—as told fully for the first time, toward the end of her life, to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds.

Dr. Barbara Reynolds is an ordained minister, a columnist, and the author of several books, including Out of Hell & Living Well: Healing from the Inside Out. She was a longtime editorial board member of USA Today, won an SCLC Drum Major for Justice Award in 1987, and was inducted into the Board of Preachers at the 29th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. International College of Ministers and Laity at Morehouse College in 2014.

Kathy Sheehan
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Disdain for a Donald Trump presidency and the fear of the future it could bring brought a variety of activist groups together in Albany over the weekend. The "anti-KKK Presidency Rally" was held in Townsend Park.

The U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District says his office has settled a religious discrimination lawsuit against a city in Orange County.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced actions intended to protect civil rights and combat hate crimes in New York.

Kenneth Woodward edited Newsweek's Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He remained a writer-at-large at Newsweek until 2009.

His new book is Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward’s narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women’s liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

  Young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts. The unemployment rate for African Americans has been double that of whites for more than half a century. And yet Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first black president spelled doom for racist policies and racist beliefs. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious.

Award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.

  For millions of people around the world, the Summer and Winter Games are a joy and a treasure, but how did they develop into a global colossus? How have they been buffeted by―and, in turn, affected by―world events? Why do we care about them so much?

From the reinvention of the Games in Athens in 1896 to Rio in 2016, best-selling sportswriter David Goldblatt brilliantly traces their history through national triumphs and tragedies, individual victories and failures.

  Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit it from the moment the act was signed into law.

Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman offers the first comprehensive history of its kind, and provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

  In the early sixties, Calvin Trillin got his start as a journalist covering the Civil Rights Movement in the South.

Over the next five decades of reporting, he often returned to scenes of racial tension. Now, for the first time, the best of Trillin’s pieces on race in America have been collected in one volume: Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America.

Pages