civil rights

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.

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.

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.

     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.

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