Wilkerson, Isabel: America’s Great Migration: 1915-1970 Part Two

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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 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 part one she discussed what she called the “biggest untold story of the 20th century.”  In part two of our conversation, recorded from her home near Atlanta, Georgia, on September 28, 2012, Isabel Wilkerson describes the inspiration behind her narrative non-fiction story of the six million African-Americans who migrated from the south between 1915 and 1970.

Wilkerson, Isabel: America’s Great Migration: 1915-1970 Part One

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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 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 Ark of Justice,” by Kevin Boyle.

Fuller, Alexandra: Growing Up White in Africa

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In the late summer of 2003 Radio Curious visited with Alexandra Fuller who, as a child lived in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia in southeast Africa between 1972 and 1990.  After her father sided with the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, he was often away from home.   Fuller’s resilient and self-sufficient mother immersed herself in their rural and rugged life. She taught her children to have strong wills and opinions, and to whole-heartedly embrace life, despite and because of their difficult circumstances.  Alexandra Fuller, author of “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood,” known as Bobo to her family, developed a love of reading and story telling early on in her life.

When I spoke with Alexandra Fuller in September 2003 her home was in rural Wyoming.  We visited by phone and began our conversation when I asked her how she choose the title for her book, “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.”

The book Alexandra Fuller recommends is “Echoing Silences,” by Alexander Canigone.

Totten, Dr Samuel: Genocide in South Sudan

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Once again we focus on the continuing genocide in the northeast African countries of Sudan and South Sudan. When the nation of South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, the hopes for peace and safety of its citizens were high. That reality however has not come to be. The people of this area, especially those from the Nuba Mountains, continue to flee for their lives amidst an ongoing deadly famine.

Professor Emeritus, Samuel Totten, Ph.D., a genocide scholar, now retired from the University of Arkansas, is our guest for the fifth time on Radio Curious. Professor Totten, who has visited Sudan and South Sudan multiple times in the past decade, hopes to visit there again the end of July, 2018. In this program, he describes recent conditions in this remote part of Africa; the heroic efforts of others who have devoted their lives to the betterment of the people of South Sudan—told in the book he edited in 2017, “Sudan’s Nuba Mountains People: Accounts by Humanitarians in the Battle Zone”—and the plans for his pending trip there. He also explains what motivates him to risk his life by doing this work.
When Dr. Sam Totten and I visited by phone from his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on July 9, 2018, we began when I asked him to describe the location of Sudan and South Sudan on the African continent.

The book Sam Totten recommends is “The Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” by Barton Gellman.

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

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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 “New Bedford became a safe haven for formerly enslaved African-Americans” who had been able to escape 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.

Phillips, Barbara: The Dialogue of Race

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This is the second of two interviews with civil rights Attorney Barbara Phillips. She is a contributor to the book “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections From the Deep South: 1964-1980,” whose editor Kent Spriggs we interviewed in December 2017.

In part one Phillips shared stories and experiences from her 40 year legal career as a community organizer and Civil Rights Lawyer.  In this, part two of our conversation, we discuss her essay “Framing the Contemporary Dialogue of Race,” that is featured in “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers.”  We discuss the changing rhetoric about race, the Second Reconstruction and a Supreme Court decision addressing race prior to the 1980s.  These decisions defined a broad scope for just and equal rights for black people in the United States.

As a retired civil rights attorney and retired professor of law at the University of Mississippi, and formerly a Program Officer of the Ford Foundation in the Human Rights unit of the Peace and Social Justice Program, she continues her life’s work as a community organizer in Oxford, Mississippi, and continues promote community justice programs around the world.

When Barbara Phillips and I visited by phone from her home in Oxford, Mississippi, on March 6, 2018, we began our conversation when I asked her about the essay “Framing the Contemporary Dialogue About Race.”

The books Barbara Phillips recommends are “What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,” by Thomas Frank, and “Transforming Feminist Practice: Non-Violence, Social Justice, and the Possibilities of a Spiritualized Feminism,” by Leela Fernandes.

Phillips, Barbara: Protecting and Defending Civil Rights

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We continue our series on “Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers,” a book in which our guest Attorney Barbara Phillips is a contributor, and Attorney Kent Spriggs, our guest in December 2017, is the editor.  Now retired, Barbara Phillips first worked as a community organizer in rural Mississippi.  Later, as an attorney she protected and defended the civil rights of women and people of color while based primarily in Mississippi and then California. Eventually, she became a professor at the University of Mississippi Law School.

In this, part one of two interviews with Barbara Phillips, she shares her stories and experiences of her 40 year legal career.  In part two we discuss her opinions on how to frame the contemporary dialogue of race.

When she and I visited by phone from her home in Oxford, Mississippi, on March 5, 2018, we began our conversation when I asked her to describe her experience as an intersectional black, female lawyer.

Sullivan, Michael Gene: Political Theater, Black Men and the Police

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Theatre as a commentary on the condition of society is the subject of this edition of Radio Curious. The topic is the relationship of police and black men in America in 2015. Our guest is Michael Gene Sullivan, the resident playwright, director and a principal actor in “2015: Freedomland,” this year’s production by the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

The first question and answer on the frequently asked questions page on the San Francisco Mime Troupe website is: “Why do you call yourself a Mime Troupe if you talk and sing?” The answer is: “We use the term mime in its classical and original definition, ‘The exaggeration of daily life in story and song.’”

When Michael Gene Sullivan and I visited by phone from his home in San Francisco on June 29, 2015, I asked him if “2015: Freedomland” was an exaggeration of daily life in story and song from his perspective.

The book Michael Gene Sullivan recommends is “The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Force,” by Redley Balko.

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.