“Kennedy, Randall — Can You Say This Word?”

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Few words in the English language have caused so much pain, hurt and emotion as the N-word. It is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history. The long history of the pejorative use of the N-word has given it an unusual power that extends to the judicial system, literature and social settings.

Randall Kennedy, a professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, is the author of “Nigger-the Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”  His book chronicles the history of this word, in an effort to diffuse and neutralize it.

Originally Broadcast: March 19, 2002

“Annie Barnes – Racism in America”

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Everyday Racism: A Book For All Americans

Racism has too long been a part of the American experience. The Civil War and the Constitutional amendments that followed, the Supreme Court decisions ordering the desegregation of schools, and the Civil Rights movements did not end racism in America. Annie S. Barnes, holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Virginia and is a retired Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Norfolk State University in Virginia. She is the author of “Everyday Racism, A Book for All Americans,” a book based on the racist experiences suffered by 146 black college students. Professor Barnes describes effects of racism on black people and what black people and white people can do to combat it.

Annie Barnes recommends “Driving While Black,” by Kenneth Meeks.

Originally Broadcast: February 27, 2001

“Da Chen – Life in China Under Mao”

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Colors of the Mountain

The Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, led by Mao Zedong, imposed a major change to the nation where one in every four people in the world live. Da Chen was born in 1962 in southern China to a once wealthy family, by that time despised for its capitalist past. At the age of 23, after graduating with top honors and serving as an assistant professor at the Beijing Language Institute, Da Chen came to America with $30 and a bamboo flute. He won a full scholarship to Columbia University Law School, and later settled in the Hudson River Valley. His book, “Colors of the Mountain,” tells the story of his childhood, his life and experiences.

Da Chen recommends “The God of Small Things,” by Arundhati Roy.

Originally Broadcast: July 18, 2000

Frost, Mike: You Can’t Hide Part Two

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Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments

The fact that governments spy on each other is no secret. The fact that they also collect data about lives of millions of innocent citizens worldwide may be unknown to many people. Mike Frost, the author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments,” worked as a spy for over 30 years. Mike traveled worldwide, setting up devices to intercept what were thought to be secret international communications. Mike Frost has since retired as a spy and has many thoughts and considerations about his former job. Our discussion led to a two-part program, originally broadcast in April of 1999.

Mike Frost recommends the movie, October Sky.

Originally Broadcast: April 6, 1999 & April 13, 1999

Frost, Mike: You Can’t Hide Part One

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Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments

The fact that governments spy on each other is no secret. The fact that they also collect data about lives of millions of innocent citizens worldwide may be unknown to many people. Mike Frost, the author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments,” worked as a spy for over 30 years. Mike traveled worldwide, setting up devices to intercept what were thought to be secret international communications. Mike Frost has since retired as a spy and has many thoughts and considerations about his former job. Our discussion led to a two-part program, originally broadcast in April of 1999.

Mike Frost recommends the movie, October Sky.

Originally Broadcast: April 6, 1999 & April 13, 1999

Harr, Jonathan: Toxic Water, A Book

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A Civil Action

Water, a necessary element to our survival is expected to be pure, safe and clean when it comes into our home. When it is polluted, the results can be extreme. The people in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, had an unusually high rate of cancer in the early 1970s. The town’s water was contaminated with industrial pollutants. Several children and adults became very sick and some died. Their families sued the polluters in the U.S. Federal Court. Jonathan Harr, a non-fiction writer, followed the process and wrote a book telling the story of what happened. He called it, “A Civil Action.” A movie, also called “A Civil Action,” was based on the book and released at the end of 1998. I spoke by phone with Jonathan Harr, from his home in Massachusetts, a month after the movie was released and asked him how he was able to capture what occurred and create “A Civil Action.”

Originally Broadcast: February 2, 1999

Francke, Terry: The People’s Right to Know

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Legal Notebook: How to Keep Open Meetings Open and Public Meetings Public

The right of the public to know how our government acts is basic to our American system of democracy. Most states and the federal government have enacted laws requiring public meetings to be open, with minimal secrecy provisions. There are also laws guaranteeing access to public records kept and maintained by the government. The California First Amendment Coalition recently published a book called, “Legal Notebook: How to Keep Open Meetings Open and Public Meetings Public.” Terry Francke is an attorney who is the general counsel for the California First Amendment Coalition and author of this book.

Terry Francke recommends “Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom,” by Victor Davis Hanson & John Heath.

Originally Broadcast: October 16, 1998

Dymond, Jane: A Juror Speaks

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The Eugene “Bear” Lincoln murder trial ended in the fall of 1997 in Ukiah, California, with an acquittal of the defendant, Mr. Lincoln, on charges of first degree and second-degree murder, and with the jury divided ten to two, on acquittal from manslaughter charges. Apart from the divisive nature of this criminal trial, it also carried a particularly extraordinary aspect. Seven of the twelve jurors chose to come forward and talk about their responses to what they heard and saw in the courtroom. Jane Dymond was a member of the Lincoln trial jury. She attended every session of the trial, and every aspect of the jury’s deliberation. She is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Jane Dymond recommends “Independent People,” by Haldor Locksmith.

Originally Broadcast: October 10, 1997

Dooling, Richard: Is it Safe to Say … ?

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Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech and Sexual Harassment

Certain words, said at the wrong time or place, may get a person into a heap of trouble. The laws surrounding freedom of speech do not permit us, for example, to shout out “fire” in a theater or advocate the immediate and violent overthrow of the government. There are also limits on the time and place where a person can use swear words or language with sexual innuendos or suggestions. Richard Dooling, an attorney and writer living in Nebraska, joined us in June of 1997 to talk about his book, entitled, “Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech and Sexual Harassment.”

Richard Dooling recommends “Emotional Brain,” by Joseph La Due.

Originally Broadcast: June 4, 1997

Garment,Leonard: Crazy Rhythm: My Journey from Brooklyn, Jazz, and Wall Street to Nixon’s White House, Watergate, and Beyond…

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Some people’s memories of President Richard Nixon are negative due to his role in escalating the Vietnam War, the student demonstrations at Kent State University, and Nixon’s ultimate downfall in Watergate. But who was the man? And how could another individual get close to him? “Crazy Rhythm: My Journey from Brooklyn, Jazz, and Wall Street to Nixon’s White House, Watergate, and Beyond…,” is a story written by a complex person very close to Richard Nixon. Attorney Leonard Garment was born to immigrant Jewish parents in New York in 1924. Playing music, especially saxophone jazz, he grew up in Brooklyn. As a good student and, with what he describes, “an ambition to run things,” Garment finished law school in his early twenties and began working for a major Wall Street law firm. Even though at times he characterized himself as a liberal Democrat, Garment became a close friend and law partner with Richard Nixon and later became the attorney for, and the counsel to, President Richard Nixon, during the time Nixon was embroiled in the throws of Watergate. This interview was originally broadcast in May of 1997.

Leonard Garment recommends “American Pastoral,” by Philip Roth.

Originally Broadcast: May 16, 1997