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34 Segments




Dick Gregory On Voting and Choice.

Activist Dick Gregory recently gave a speech for the Ford Hall Forum that was recorded by NPR. Today, Fresh Air will play an excerpt of that speech, on the subject "Are Minorities Really Powerless?" The topics addressed in the excerpt are the 1980 presidential election, Gregory's distaste for the concept of "voting for the lessor of two evils," and the "choicelessness" the common voter feels. The speech was given prior to the election.

Comedian and activist Dick Gregory

Director Robert Young

Before beginning production, Young spends weeks living the life of his movies' characters to more authentically capture their experiences. His films often center on the injustices committed against marginalized people.


Keeping Black Stories Alive

John O'Neal cofounded the Free Southern Theater, a company closely aligned with the black civil rights movement. Louise Anderson is a prominent African American storyteller. They are both featured in the National Festival of Black Storytellers at Philadelphia's Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum.


Remembering the Freedom Rides

James Farmer returns to Fresh Air to share memories of the 1961 Freedom Rides and later race riots that erupted during later that decade. His new memoir, Lay Bare the Heart, has just been published.


How Martin Luther King, Jr. Lit Up the World

Journalist Taylor Branch says most histories of the African American civil rights movement written by white people are missing heart and context. He seeks to avoid this pitfall in his new book, Parting the Waters. Branch joins Fresh Air to discuss the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. in black churches, and how John F. Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover attempted to control him for their own ends.


Civil Rights Leader J.L. Chestnut

Chestnut earned his law degree at Washington D.C.'s Howard University, but soon returned to his hometown of Selma, Alabama, where he opened a law office -- before legal protections like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed. His new memoir is called Black in Selma.


Curtis Mayfield Secures His Place in Soul Music

Ed Ward concludes his two-part history of the politically-minded singer and songwriter. Mayfield was recruited by Columbia Records so that label could compete with Motown. After a few career missteps with other labels, Mayfield scored two hits from his soundtrack the film Superfly.


An Elegy for a One Hour Drama

TV critic David Bianculli previews the season finale of "I'll Fly Away," on NBC. It deals with civil rights in the 1950s American South and, because of low ratings, will likely face a premature death.


Civil Rights Attorney and Law Professor Jack Greenberg.

Civil rights attorney and law professor Jack Greenberg. He was just out of law school--a white Jewish man from the Bronx when he joined the fledgling NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Greenberg took over the helm of the LDF from his mentor Thurgood Marshall when Marshall was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals. During Greenberg's tenure there, the LDF litigated some of the watershed cases of the civil rights struggle. He has just published a memoir of his 35 years at the LDF.


Martha Reeves on Polishing Her Motown Image

Martha Reeves is the lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, the Motown group which made it big in the 60's with such hits as "Nowhere to Run," "Heat Wave," and "Dancing in the Street." Her new autobiography, "Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva," is about her career, her conflicts with other Motown singers and managers, and her experiences touring during the height of the Civil Rights movement.


Race in the United States During the "King Years."

Historian Taylor Branch. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the first book of his planned trilogy of the Civil Rights movement: "Parting the Waters: America In the King Years 1954-63" (now in paper, Simon & Schuster) His new book "Pillars of Fire: America In the King Years 1963-65" (Simon & Schuster) begins where the other book ended, and covers what he considers the peak years in the movement. At the center of the book are Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, LBJ, and J. Edgar Hoover.


Congresswoman and Lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton

In her 40 years of public service she worked for civil rights, helped write the guidelines that are now established in the Sexual Harrassment Act, worked for reform in South Africa and has argued before the Supreme Court. She has been the Commissioner on Human Rights in New York, the first woman appointed to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a law professor. Holmes Norton is the subject of the new biography Fire in My Soul, written by a long-time friend, Joan Steinau Lester.


Patricia Stephens Due and Tananarive Due

They have collaborated on the new book Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. Patricia Due was a civil rights activist with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and was part of the movement's landmark "jail-in." Protesters served time instead of paying a fine for the so-called crime of sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter. Patricia Due worked with many of the movement's great figures during the 1960s.

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