School Desegregation in the 1950’s – excuses, excuses, excuses.
Click on the link here for Audio player: CBS Radio – Virginia Integration – 1958
When the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Brown vs.The Board of Education, declaring segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, you would have thought the school districts around the U.S. would be quick in complying. No. Far from it.
The resistance to school desegregation, especially throughout the South was palpable and the showdown between segregationists and the Federal government, made famous by the Central High confrontation in Little Rock in 1957, gave some idea of just how much resistance to the Civil Rights movement there was in the South, and would be for decades.
This documentary, produced by CBS Radio and narrated by the venerable Walter Cronkite, chronicles the situation in Virginia in late August-early September 1958 as school was readying for the Fall semester.
Further proof the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950’s and 1960’s was no walk in the park. It was State to State, precinct to precinct and hand to hand.
You’d think after forty-two years . . . . . . . but no.
Click on the link here for Audio player: Women’s Strike – August 26, 1970
As a reminder of the protests, the struggle and the message – today marks the forty-second anniversary of Women’s Day (August 26, 1970) and the marches and demonstrations that took place world-wide on that day.
Here is an excerpt of the March in New York City, as relayed by WBAI and its day-long live broadcast on August 26, 1970.
It would be optimistic to look back on this period of history with a sense of the curious, and consider, with a sigh of relief how much things have changed for Women in those four decades. However, the events of the past several months seem to prove otherwise. Very little, in fact has changed.
The faces have changed, the teargas and pepperspray have not.
Click on the link here for audio player: The Young Rebels – 1968
In case you forgot or weren’t around at the time, 1968 was a tumultuous year in our history. It was the year just about everything fell apart. From the war in Vietnam, to assassinations of much-loved leaders, to an entire country going out on strike. It was, as several called it “The Incredible year”.
Much of that year had to do with protest. The Vietnam War had taken a turn for the grossly unpopular, to the point of even the mainstream press lining up against it. And because of the strong sentiments against the war, the protests became increasingly larger and more violent. The Civil Rights movement had taken a turn from peaceful protest to physical confrontation. And in France, an entire nation went on strike and took to the streets to vent anger and frustration over a government that had lost touch with its people.
Here is one of many documentaries produced in 1968 (and later years) which sought to give some perspective as to what was going on. This one, part of the Second Sunday series from NBC Radio looks at the protest movement from the mainstream standpoint. Produced in October of 1968 the events of the Spring and Summer were still pretty fresh in peoples minds, and the wounds were far from healing. Even though it’s via the Mainstream press, it does strive to be objective. Whether it was successful or not depends on where you were when it all went down.
But still, it’s a reference point, and if you aren’t all that familiar with the period, it’s one place to start.
Stephen Biko – His murder while in jail was a rallying cry all over the world.
Click on the link here for audio: Steve Biko Interview – August 1977
Although it hasn’t been that long since the end of brutal and repressive Apartheid policies in South Africa, some of the voices most closely associated with the movement and the struggle are fading from view. One of the most prominent, and one whose death while in custody became a rallying cry all over the world was that of Stephen Biko.
A committed anti-apartheid activist, follower of non-violent protest and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, Biko was arrested shortly after this interview on August 18, 1977 and detained by the South African police. It was while he was in custody that he died as the result of torture.
Here is one of the few interviews by Stephen Biko and most likely one of the last he gave before his death.
If you’ve never heard his voice before, now is your chance. If you ever wondered where the phrase “Black Is Beautiful” originated – it was Stephen Biko.
Strom Thurmond – Became a breakaway party in 1948.
Click on the Link: 1948 Demo Convention – Strom Thurmond Address – July 14, 1948
The 1948 Presidential race was hard fought and hotly contested. Within the ranks of the Democratic Party there was a faction, primarily representing the South, who objected strongly to President Truman’s strong Civil Rights stand. So resentful of the President’s campaign to end racial discrimination in the Armed Forces, end lynching, end racial segregation and end voting discrimination, that the Southern Bloc broke away and formed The States Rights Party in reaction to Truman’s renomination at the Philadelphia Convention.
Here, during the seconding votes and speeches given by delegates, is the address by Strom Thurmond, voicing his opposition to the Truman Civil Rights plank. It is from the night of July 14, 1948 and features Thurmond and several other delegates who would figure prominently in the defection later on.
It’s a short address, and the audience is noticeably mixed in its reaction to Thurmond. But it’s a glimpse of just how chaotic the 1948 Democratic Convention was in 1948.
Kansas City July 17, 1951 – At last count, 2 million acres underwater.
Click on the link: News for July 17, 1951
The main news on this July 17th in 1951 was about the devastating floods that swept over Kansas City, submerging some 2 million acres and causing an untold amount of damage and loss of life. On the day of this newscast, President Truman had finished a tour of the disaster area and had pledged some $25 million in recovery aid, which was quickly approved by Congress.
Other news regarding Congress and the goings-on in Capitol Hill had to do with the continuing fracas and debate over Price Controls. Dubbed “The Horsemeat Congress”, the question of Beef prices raised more than the average ruckus (and a song from one Congressman).
And finally, news from Los Angeles over a racial incident involving singer Josephine Baker and a diner at a local Hollywood eatery. Seems the diner, a White male from Dallas, made a few crude racial remarks about Ms. Baker, who in turn called the Police who said they couldn’t arrest him, but she could make a Citizens Arrest. The result was the diner was arrested by Ms. Baker and booked on being drunk and disorderly in public.
And so went this July day in 1951, as relayed by Don Hollenbeck, substituting for Edward R. Murrow and The News from CBS Radio.