Abraham Lincoln & James Getty – The 16th President

In 1995, James A. Getty, who appears in public as Abraham Lincoln, visited Ukiah, California and joined us in the studios of Radio Curious. In talking with President Lincoln about his life, the events of his time and about his presidency, the conversation focused upon the economics of the mid-19th century. I asked Mr. Lincoln to give us his opinion about the effect that Eli Whitney’s cotton gin had on the spread of slavery.

Abraham Lincoln and James Getty recommend “Malice Toward None,” by Steven Oats.

Originally Broadcast: March 7, 1996

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Mello, Mark — Reflections on The Underground Railroad—What now? 

Imagine growing up in a tightly bound community of no more than 60 people who worked from dawn to dusk and who were subjected to unimaginable indignities and torture.   Why? Because they were African Americans born into slavery in the United States prior in the first half of the 19th century.  They hoped and dreamed of freedom, freedom to an unknown place; that freedom served as a guide for those who risked their lives to flee the bondage.

Freedom for some was found in the seaport town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where escaped former slaves were welcome.  New Bedford was the richest city in the world in the 1850s, a city run by Quakers and other abolitionists, who created a safe haven for black people from the south.  The 1,000 plus men and women who found refuge in New Bedford were more than enough to hide the newcomers as they arrived.  Often the men found work on the whaling ships that ventured forth around the world from the New Bedford harbor, which is the topic of a two-part Radio Curious program.

In this series about New Bedford as a safe haven on the Underground Railroad, we explore the lives of freedom seeking ex-slaves who safely made the journey to the south east corner of Massachusetts. In part one, we discuss how Quakers made the town an abolitionist safe haven.  In this, the second of a two part program, we continue our visit with National Park Ranger Mark Mello.  Part of Ranger Mello’s work is that of a tour guide interpreting the history and stories of pre-civil war New Bedford.  His interpretations focus on the bravery and dedication of New Bedford residents at that time.

I joined Mark Mello’s walking tour about the Underground Railroad’s connection to New Bedford in the Old Town Section on September 2, 2016.   This edition of Radio Curious begins with Ranger Mello’s story of Nathan and Polly Johnson, a free black couple who lived and worked there–he as a pharmacist and she a confectionary. 

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover;  “Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Mello, Mark — The Underground Railroad in New Bedford, Massachusetts

New Bedford, Massachusetts, a sea port located in the southeast corner of Massachusetts, at the base of Cape Cod, is the locale of our program.  Early in New Bedford’s history a group of Quakers from Boston moved there and the town became a safe haven for formerly enslaved African-Americans, who escaped bondage. 

The stories of those who safely arrived in New Bedford on the Underground Railroad are presented at the 34 acre New Bedford National Historical Park in the Old Town section of New Bedford. 

This two part series on the New Bedford Underground Railroad with National Park Ranger Mark Mello was recorded on September 2, 2016, with the sound of wind and street traffic in the background.  Part one begins with a historical perspective of the Underground Railroad and the way in which New Bedford, Massachusetts was a safe haven for former slaves.  

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover;  ”Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare. 

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Griffin, Paul Dr. — Seeds of Racism

Racism, as a part of the American religious culture, can be traced to the religious concepts of some of the earliest European settlers in North America. Professor Paul R. Griffin explores these roots in his book, “Seeds of Racism in the Soul of America,” linking the concepts in the Puritan belief system to long lasting racist effects. He argues that racism is itself a religion in the United States and is closely related to America Christianity. He claims that efforts to erase racism have failed because they have concentrated on its visible manifestations rather than its ideological character.

The book Dr. Paul Griffin recommends is “The Rage of A Privileged Class,” by Ellis Cose.

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Woodbine, Onaje Ph.D. — Black Gods of the Asphalt Part Two

The transcendent experience of street basketball is the topic of two conversations with Onaje X. O. Woodbine, author of “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.” Woodbine grew up in the inner-city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, became a skilled street basketball player and attended Yale University on a basketball scholarship. After two years as a star player on the Yale team, he chose a different life path and quit.

After graduating from Yale, Woodbine earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University. His book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt” presents a social-anthropological view of this inner-city sport where coaches often assume the role of father, mentor and friend. He contrasts the lessons learned on the street basketball courts, with those learned at the predominantly white basketball courts and locker rooms of Yale University.

Onaje Woodbine visited with Radio Curious by phone on August 13, 2016, from his home in Andover, Massachusetts. In part one we discussed his experiences growing up and playing on the basketball courts in the inner city and how that differend from the Ivy League schools he later went to. In part two, we began our conversation when I asked him to explain the ethnographic research and methods he used in making his book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt.”

The book Dr. Onaje Woodbine recommends is “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Woodbine, Onaje Ph.D. — Black Gods of the Asphalt Part One

The transcendent experience of street basketball is the topic of two conversations with Onaje X. O. Woodbine, author of “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.” Woodbine grew up in the inner-city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, became a skilled street basketball player and attended Yale University on a basketball scholarship. After two years as a star player on the Yale team, he chose a different life path and quit.

After graduating from Yale, Woodbine earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University. His book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt” presents a social-anthropological view of this inner-city sport where coaches often assume the role of father, mentor and friend. He contrasts the lessons learned on the street basketball courts, with those learned at the predominantly white basketball courts and locker rooms of Yale University.

Onaje Woodbine visited with Radio Curious by phone on August 13, 2016, from his home in Andover, Massachusetts, and began part one by describing his relationship with his father, Dr. Robert Woodbine.  In part two he discusses the ethnographic research and methods he used in making his book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt.”

The book Dr. Onaje Woodbine recommends is “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Marshall, Dr. Joseph — Police Policies and Black Lives Matter

Police misconduct and accountability is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. Out guest is Dr. Joseph Marshall, a member of the San Francisco Police Commission where he leads the Commissions efforts to reform policing policies at the San Francisco Police Department. In addition Dr. Marshall is the executive director of Alive & Free,  a non-profit organization that teaches inner city youth violence prevention and offers higher education scholarships.  He is the host of Street Soldiers Radio aired every Sunday evening live from 8 to 10 pm on KMEL FM 106.1 in San Francisco, California.

I spoke with Dr. Joseph Marshall on August 15, 2016 from his office in San Francisco, California and began our conversation when I asked him about Black Lives Matter.

The book Dr. Joseph Marshall recommends is “The Autobiography of Malcom X.”

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Benton, Robert — The Human Stain

This program is about “passing,” a term sometimes used to define a person of color who passes as white. From the 2004 Radio Curious archives we revisit a conversation with film director Robert Benton, about his film “The Human Stain.” It’s a movie about the life of Coleman Silk, an eminent Jewish intellectual and devoted husband; a professor of classics at a small New England college.  The truth about Coleman Silk, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is far more complex than expected or thought to be.  He hid behind a veil of lies, having masked his African-American origins in order to find a freedom he thought would otherwise be impossible to achieve.  But his world of deception unraveled after embarking on a romance with a much younger woman.

Our guest, Robert Benton, is a three time Academy Awards winner for his work as the Director of “Kramer Vs. Kramer,” “Places in the Heart,” and “Nobody’s Fool.” His film, “The Human Stain,” takes place in the 1990s and is based on the third novel of Phillip Roth’s “American Trilogy” describing the post World War Two turmoil in America.

The title “The Human Stain” emerges from the idea that no matter what a person does, a human being leaves a mark on the world, whether by rage, desire, ambition or accident, a kind of scar; stain that cannot be undone.  For Coleman Silk that stain is the deception and concealment he carried for decades. The human stain is the mark we leave on everything.  It speaks to the fact that we can’t get through life without marking the world around us in some way. We have no choice. It’s part of being human.

Robert Benton and I visited by phone in the fall of 2004.

The books Robert Benton recommends are “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night,” by Mark Haddon and “The Manuscript Found in Sargossa,” by Jan Potocki.

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Dr. Alondra Nelson – Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

 

Who we are and where we come from is a crucial question that now we are more able to answer than ever before. The examination and analysis of our individual DNA, in addition to answering a myriad of medical and forensic secrets also reveals the mix of our individual ancestors and the paths they took. This analysis provides significant and untold information about who we are, from where we came and how we may connect with our relatives.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, the Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, in New York City, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Professor Nelson is the author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome. She s also the author of Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, which she and I have previously discussed on Radio Curious.

To discuss The Social Life of DNA, Professor Nelson and I visited by phone from her office n New York City, on February 19, 2016. We began by noting that although all human beings are members of the human race, people are grouped by skin color and/or facial features and characterized as being of a different race.

The book she recommends is “Come Out Swinging,” by Lucia Trimbur.

This program was recorded on February 19, 2016.

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Dr. Elizabeth Allen – Changes In Segregation Since 1952 – Part 2

In this edition of Radio Curious, we’ll visit again with Dr. Elizabeth Allen, a Professor of nursing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. As a high school student, Dr. Allen was one of the first African American students to integrate the West Virginia high schools in 1957.

We begin our conversation with Dr. Allen when she discusses how she was able to successfully get through the educational system, and what changes have occurred in education since then, as they relate to African American students.

The book she recommends is The Price of Loyalty by David Susskind with former US Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neil.

This episode originally broadcast in May, 2004