Massey, Orell: The Impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on One Man

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To assist in the consideration of the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the United States, I invited my friend Orell Massey to join us again here at Radio Curious.  In February 2014, when Massey first visited us he shared his experiences as the first and, so far, the only black law enforcement officer in the history of Mendocino County, California.  Prior to becoming a Deputy Sheriff here 23 years ago, Massey served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was primarily assigned to the Foreign Service Embassy detail. A native of rural South Carolina, he suffered under the cloud, terror, threats and fears brought on by racial segregation throughout his childhood and early adult years before joining the Marine Corps.   Now, he continues to work part time as a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff, since his retirement in 2017.

When Orell Massey visited the Radio Curious studios on January 14, 2018, we focused on the effect that Martin Luther King, Jr. had on his life.

The Civil Rights song featured is “Can’t Turn Me ‘Round” performed by The Roots.

The book Orell Massey recommends is “I Never Had it Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson,”  by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett.

Spriggs, Kent: Legal Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

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In all successful social and political changes in here in the the United States and elsewhere, civil disobedience plays a significant role. Bus boycotts, sit-ins and marches, coordinated with constitution based legal challenges to blatant racially based restrictions imposed by the white supremacy in the American south, were at the core of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Attorney Kent Spriggs, the editor of “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections from the Deep South, 1964-1980.”  Spriggs compiled the voices of 26 lawyers, black and white, from the south and the north who began their law practices in the mid-1960s and successfully ended significant aspects of the then existing racial segregation. They describe their backgrounds and provide context for their civil rights litigation and other basic legal rights, as well as how their successes later advanced other movements for social justice.

Kent Spriggs, raised in Washington, D.C. went to the Deep South in 1965 after finishing law school in New York.  He has been a Civil Rights lawyer since he arrived there over 50 years ago. Spriggs, now a resident and former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and I visited by phone from his home office on December 4, 2017.  We began our conversation when I asked him describe the contributors and some of their stories in “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers.”

The three books Kent Spriggs recommends are: “The Shock Doctrine,” by Naomi Klein; “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race” by Beverly Daniel Tatum; and “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness,” by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West.

Zimring, Frank: When Police Kill Part Two

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This is the second in a two part series on why police in the United States kill more citizens than in any other developed nation.  Our guest is Professor Franklin E. Zimring from the Law School at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is the author of the 2017 book “When Police Kill.”

In part one, Zimring discusses why police killings are such a serious problem in the United States. He asserts it is in large part because of widespread ownership and use of handguns, which increase the vulnerability of police to life-threatening assault.

Here, in part two, Zimring explains how the problem of police killings can be effectively controlled without major changes in the performance or the effectiveness of police.

When Frank Zimring and I visited by phone from his office in Berkeley, California, on November 17, 2017, we began with his discussion of ways to effectively address the problem of police killings.

The book Frank Zimring recommends is “Memos From Midlife: 24 Parables of Adult Adjustment,” his only non-law related book.

And finally for full disclosure, Frank and I met in elementary school in Los Angeles.

Zimring, Frank: When Police Kill Part One

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This program is devoted to some of the reasons why police in the United States kill and who the dead are.

Of the 1,100 killings by police in the United States in the year 2015, 85% were a result of a fatal shooting. 95% of those victims were male.  The death rates for African Americans and Native Americans are twice their share of the population.

Our guest in this first of a two part series on why police kill, is Franklin E. Zimring a law professor at the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is also the author of “When Police Kill.”

Zimring’s conclusions, based on evidence garnered from the empirical research revealed in his book show: 1) “Police use of lethal force is a very serious national problem in the United States”; 2) “Killings by police are a much larger problem in the United States than in any other developed nation, in large part because of widespread ownership and use of handguns which increase the vulnerability of police to life-threatening assault;” and 3) “Police killings are a very specific problem that can be effectively controlled without major changes in the performance or the effectiveness of police.”  This third point is the topic of part two in this series.

And, for the sake of full disclosure, Frank Zimring and I have been friends since our early years in elementary school.

Frank Zimring and I visited by phone from his office at Boalt Hall Law School in Berkeley, California on November 17, 2017.   We began our conversation when I asked him to discuss policing as a governmental function.

Best, George: John Brown and Harper’s Ferry

Harper’s Ferry National Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in the easternmost corner of what is now West Virginia. This tiny national park, just over a square mile in size, is the location of the 1859 raid led by John Brown, a white abolitionist. Outraged by the sustained existence of slavery in southern United States, Brown and his armed supporters snuck across the river at night attempting to take over of the government arsenal, arm the nearby enslaved people and foment a revolt.  Brown’s intended efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and resulted in his conviction for treason and death by hanging.  Nonetheless, he foreshadowed the growing discontent of slavery that would lead to the civil war.

I joined Ranger George Best on October 12, 2017, for a tour and stories, which began at the 1848 now defunct armory amid background sounds of the rivers, railroads and other machinery  He begins with a description of the Foundry, Harper’s Ferry largest building.

The books George Best recommends are: “A Walker’s Guide to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia,” by Dave Gilbert, “The Strange Story of Harper’s Ferry” by Joseph Berry, and “Harpers Ferry Under Fire” by Dennis Fryer.

Pace, Charles & Wagner, Sally: A Visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Frederick Douglass

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass were good friends from the mid 19th century to the late 19th century, and were active leaders in the fight for the rights of women and blacks throughout their lives.  From time to time they got together to visit and talk about America, as they knew it. In this archive edition of Radio Curious recorded in May 1998, I met with Chautauqua scholars Sally Roesch Wagner and Charles Pace who portrayed Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass.

We began our conversation when I asked them each to tell us what it was like to be an American during their life time.

The book Frederick Douglass recommends is, “The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces Together With Rules, Which Are Calculated to Improve Youth and Others, in the Ornamental and Using Art of Eloquence” by Caleb Bingham. The book Charles Pace recommends is, “W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868 to 1919,” by David Levering Lewis.

The book Elizabeth Cady Stanton recommends is, “The Woman’s Bible” edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The book Sally Wagner recommends is, “The Homesteader: A Novel,” by Oscar Micheaux.

Adams, Dr. Francis: Are We Still Racists?

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“Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man’s Land, 1619 to 2000” is a book in part written by Francis Adams, an independent scholar living in Los Angeles, California. The book posits that the drive for equal rights for black people in the United States has never had the support of the majority of America. Rather, racial progress has been made in brief historic bursts, lead by the committed militant minorities of abolitionists, radical republicans, and civil rights activists.

Dr. Francis Adams and I began our conversation when I asked him to explain the importance of the trial of James Somerset that took place in England in 1772.

The book that Dr. Francis Adams recommends is: “Collapse,” by Jared Diamond.

Originally Broadcast: January 29, 2005.

Wilkerson, Isabel: America’s Great Migration, PART 2

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In PART TWO of our conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” we continue our discussion of the migration of almost six million black American citizens from the south to northern and western cities between the years of 1915 and 1970. Her book tells the untold experiences of the African-Americans who fled the south over three generations.

Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people for her book. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and is a recipient of the George Polk Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Her parents were part of the great migration, journeying from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington D.C.

Wilkerson, Isabel – America’s Great Migration, Part 1

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In the years between 1915 and 1970 almost six million black American citizens from the south migrated to northern and western cities seeking freedom and a better life. Our guest is Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson (http://isabelwilkerson.com/), author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Her book tells the untold experiences of the African-Americans who fled the south over three generations.

Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people for her book. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, and is a recipient of the George Polk Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Her parents were part of the great migration, journeying from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington D.C.

In the first of two interviews recorded from Isabel Wilkerson’s home near Atlanta, Georgia, on September 28, 2012, she begins with a description of the “biggest untold story of the 20th century.”

The book Isabel Wilkerson recommends is “The Arc of Justice,” by Kevin Boyle

Patterson, Dr. Victoria: It Does Not Require Many Words to Speak the Truth

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This week, we continue our discussion with ethnologist Dr. Victoria Patterson. We talk about how the United States treated the Native people of North America initially, and later during the westward expansion. We also discuss the consequences to the Native people when they entered into written treaties with the United States. Not having a written language, they relied on the carefully chosen words they spoke during the treaty negotiations and the words spoken by the representatives of the United States.

Dr. Victoria Patterson is an ethnologist who has studied the Native people of what is now the United States for the past 40 years.  She lives and works in Ukiah, California. I invite you to listen to the 1999 two-part series with Dr. Patterson about the life of the Pomo People of northwestern California prior to contact with Europeans, and what occurred in the ten years thereafter.

We began this interview with her elaborating on and putting into context the statement of Chief Joseph: “It Does Not Require Many Words to Speak the Truth.”

The book Victoria Patterson recommends is “The Best American Travel Writing 2016,” by Bill Bryson.

This program was recorded on January 23, 2017.