civil rights

  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.

Sarah S. Kilborne
Jane O’Connor

  The Lavender Blues is a showcase of queer music before World War II. It is music history. It is queer history. It is women's history. It is great entertainment.

With The Lavender Blues, modern cabaret performer Sarah Kilborne brings to light for the first time the quiet, yet powerful emergence between the world wars of songs that spoke about what it was like to be gay or "in the life."

From such legends as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Gladys Bentley and Josephine Baker, Kilborne performs songs - written almost a century ago - that describe what it is like to be non-binary. The themes in the music are as emblematic of yesterday as they are relevant today, addressing issues of masculinity, femininity, same-sex love, cross-dressing, the desire for freedom from prejudice and more.

Sarah Kilborne is bringing the show to The Linda in Albany, NY on Friday night.

  How did gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry go from unthinkable to inevitable? How did the individual right to bear arms, dismissed as fraudulent by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1990, become a constitutional right in 2008? And what compelled President George W. Bush to rein in many of his initiatives in the war on terror before leaving office, even though past presidents have had a free hand in wartime? We are likely to answer that, in each case, the Supreme Court remade our nation’s most fundamental law.

Yet as the award-winning legal scholar David Cole argues in Engines of Liberty, citizen activists are the true drivers of constitutional change.

  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.

     In the decades after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, busing to achieve school desegregation became one of the nation’s most controversial civil rights issues. 

Audio Pending...

  The new book Why Busing Failed examines the pitched battles over busing on a national scale focusing on cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York and Pontiac, Michigan. The book shows how school officials, politicians, the courts and the media disregarded the rights of black students and gave precedents to the desires white parents who opposed desegregation. Why Busing Failed is authored by Matthew Delmont, Associate Professor of History at Arizona State University.

  Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II serves as President of the North Carolina NAACP and convener of the Forward Together Moral Movement, an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations in North Carolina.

The Forward Together Moral Movement, better known as “Moral Monday,” is a multi-racial, multi-generational movement to battle immoral, extreme policies adopted by the governor and state legislature.

The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement are now engaged in litigation to reverse the worst voter suppression laws in the country. Barber is the author of the book The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.

He will be speaking as part of The Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Nonviolent Social Change at Siena College Wednesday 3/30 at 7PM. His talk is titled: “Moral Dissenters are a Necessity for the Destiny, Choosing the Path to Higher Ground.”

On the evening of June 24th 1973 a fire tore through a bar in New Orleans’ French quarter where a group of gay men were meeting for a religious service, 32 died in the blaze.  Though it was the largest massacre of gay people in American history no one called it a tragedy, and no one tried to understand the purpose of the meeting-it was a religious service. The men were part of a growing religious movement that developed in the 1970s that has since been forgotten and overshadowed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.

In his new book Stand By Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation, historian Jim Downs uses the story of that fateful night as a jumping off point for a wide ranging narrative revealing that gay life in America in the 1970s was far richer and more varied than has been remembered. In short, gay life in that decade was about far more than just sex. He shows us gay people standing together as friends, fellow believers and colleagues to create a sense of community among  people who felt alienated from mainstream American life. Jim Downs is an Associate Professor of History at Connecticut College and an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellow at Harvard University.

A History Of Abolition

Feb 26, 2016

  In celebration of Black History Month there is a new book by a University of Massachusetts professor that overturns long-held assumptions about the abolitionist movement. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition is by Manisha Sinha, published by Yale University Press.

Sinha shows that rather than being composed of white, bourgeois, racially paternalistic reformers, abolitionism was a radical movement of women and men, black and white, slave and free who supported feminism, labor rights and utopian socialism.

Relying on extensive archival research and newly discovered materials, The Slave’s Cause explores the influence on abolition of the Haitian Revolution and slave resistance.

  In The Black Calhouns, Gail Lumet Buckley—daughter of actress Lena Horne—delves deep into her family history, detailing the experiences of an extraordinary African-American family from Civil War to Civil Rights.

Beginning with her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave who used the rare advantage of his education to become a successful businessman in post-war Atlanta, Buckley follows her family’s two branches: one that stayed in the South, and the other that settled in Brooklyn. 

  Ally Sheedy, a highly accomplished actress perhaps best known for her roles in The Breakfast Club, War Games and Short Circuit, is directing an amazing one-woman performance based on the 2015 award winning memoir, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery.

The performance will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 13th at M.C. Smith Intermediate School in Hudson, NY. It will feature the Hudson High School Choir, who will open the event by performing songs from the Civil Rights era.

The story recounts the experiences of a young Lowery growing up in Selma, Alabama during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Lowery was jailed nine times before her 15th birthday as a result of her participation in marches for voting rights. The show stars actress Damaras Obi. Damaras and Ally Sheedy join us in studio this morning and Lynda Blackmon Lowery joins us via phone from NYC.

    

  Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for “Black Power” during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966.

A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night.

In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

  Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words.

His story is told in the latest book in Brad Meltzer's New York Times Bestselling "Ordinary People Change the World" series, I am Martin Luther King Jr.

  Over the past half-century, the U.S. has seen profound demographic and cultural change. But racial progress still seems distant. After the faith of the civil rights movement, the fervor of multiculturalism, and even the brief euphoria of a “post-racial” moment, we remain a nation divided. Resegregation is the norm.

The culture wars flare as hot as ever. How do Americans see race now? Do we see each other any more clearly than before?

In Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America, Jeff Chang, the award-winning author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, looks anew at the tumultuous half-century from the peak of the civil rights era to the colorization and strife of the Obama years.

  In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States.

Award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us that Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

  Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she got the call to return and cover the American invasion.

Addario finds a way to travel with a purpose. She photographs the Afghan people before and after the Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, as well as the burned villages and countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war.

She writes about her experiences in her memoir, It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War.

Photo by Jean-Gabriel Neukomm
National Endowment For The Humanities

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation authorizing The Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission, which will implement events and programs marking the role New York played in the suffrage movement nationwide, and the right for women to vote. Sara Ogger is the Executive Director of the New York Council For The Humanities, which will be organizing and providing funding for events across the state marking the celebration of the Suffrage Movement 100 years ago.

 Thurgood Marshall the first African American to be nominated to the Supreme Court, brought down the separate but equal doctrine, integrated schools, worked with the NAACP's legal defense fund, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity, but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In a new biography, Showdown: Thurgood Marshall And The Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, award winning author, Will Haygood, details the life and career of one of the most transformative legal minds of the past one hundred years.

  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.

Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation and an investigative journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR.

In his book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, he charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day.

4/22/15 Panel

Apr 22, 2015

    

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC's Alan Chartock, SUNY Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Professor, Rosemary Armao, and Editor of The Daily Gazette, Judy Patrick.

Topics include: Baltimore Civil Rights Investigation, DEA Chief Resigns, Loretta Lynch confirmation, Saudi Arabia Halts Bombing, PBS v. Ben Affleck.

  The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region's 14th Annual Public History Conference is taking place this weekend - April 17-19.

This year's conference is entitled "Breaking Free: Civil War, Emancipation, and Beyond" and will feature among its events, a Saturday Morning Keynote - "Underground Railroad to the Fight Against Neoliberal Racism: The Long Struggle for Black Liberation" presented by Henry Louis Taylor, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at University at Buffalo and the Founding Director of the Center for Urban Studies.

Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, Jr.'s research focuses on a historical and contemporary analysis of distressed urban neighborhoods, social isolation and race and class issues among people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos.

  In August 1906, black soldiers stationed in Brownsville, Texas, were accused of going on a lawless rampage in which shots were fired, one man was killed, and another wounded. Because the perpetrators could never be positively identified, President Theodore Roosevelt took the highly unusual step of discharging without honor all one hundred sixty-seven members of the black battalion on duty the night of the shooting.

Taking on Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied the President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics by Harry Lembeck investigates the controversial action of an otherwise much-lauded president, the challenge to his decision from a senator of his own party, and the way in which Roosevelt’s uncompromising stance affected African American support of the party of Lincoln.

4/8/15 Panel

Apr 8, 2015

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC's Alan Chartock, SUNY Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Professor, Rosemary Armao, and political consultant, Libby Post.

Scheduled topics include SC policeman charged with murder; Russians hack the White House; US tracked billions of calls over decades; Greenpeace protest; Albany County District Attorney David Soares to investigate Donald 'Dontay' Ivy's death.

  Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography--until now.

In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal.

Doug Kerr, flickr

A national civil rights organization says the economic woes of Newburgh deserve special attention.

    

  Acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris latest book, Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era—pioneering journalist Ethel Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press."

A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender. She publicly prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation, and her reporting on legislative and judicial civil rights battles enlightened and activated black readers across the nation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Payne’s seminal role by presenting her with a pen used in signing the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, she became the first female African American radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS. Her story mirrors the evolution of our own modern society.

  In Mea Culpa: Lessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History, Steven W. Bender examines how the United States’ collective shame about its past has shaped the evolution of law and behavior.

We regret slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws. We eventually apologize, while ignoring other oppressions, and our legal response to regret often fails to be transformative for the affected groups.

  

  There will be a Black History Month event at The Egg in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 28, that will combine music, speeches and a panel discussion to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches and to discuss ongoing civil rights efforts.

They keynote speakers will be Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed and Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark.

Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed joins us. His most recent book is The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism.

  Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues in her book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies.

WAMC

An annual Black History Month observance in Springfield, Massachusetts was dedicated this year to the woman known as the city’s “mother of civil rights” who died late last year at the age of 100.

    This was the 29th annual ceremony to raise the Black American Heritage Flag over Springfield City Hall. It was the first one held without Ruth Loving.  The local activist for civil rights, healthcare for the poor, and libraries died last November.

    

  Between November 1963, when he became president, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal.

In just three years, Johnson drove the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts; the War on Poverty program; Medicare and Medicaid; the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities; Public Broadcasting; immigration liberalization; a raft of consumer and environmental protection acts; and major federal investments in public transportation.

Collectively, this group of achievements was labeled by Johnson and his team the “Great Society.” In his new book, The Fierce Urgency of Now, Princeton Professor of History Julian Zelizer looks at the full story.

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