African-American History Topics

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Search our vast archive of interviews with scholars, journalists, activists, key political figures, and authors.

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    In a Black History Month special, today we spend the hour with the legendary pianist and composer Randy Weston. For the past six decades, Weston has been a pioneering jazz musician incorporating the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa. His most famous compositions include "Little Niles," "Blue Moses" and "Hi-Fly," and his 1960 album, "Uhuru Afrika," was a landmark recording that celebrated the independence...
    February 20, 2012 | Story
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    The music world continues to pay tribute to pop superstar Whitney Houston following her death on Saturday at the age of 48. She was honored at last night’s Grammy Awards by host LL Cool J and Jennifer Hudson. "She is part of a generation of what I called 'black pop crossover artists,' that would include Eddie Murphy, the late Michael Jackson, and even basketball player Michael Jordan, in that they had unprecedented amount of...
    February 13, 2012 | Story
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    Whitney Houston is just the latest cultural icon to pass away during this year’s Black History Month. On February 1, "Soul Train" host Don Cornelius was found dead at his home in Los Angeles, in what appeared to be a suicide. Cornelius brought black music and culture into America’s living rooms through his dance show, "Soul Train," one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history, and played a...
    February 13, 2012 | Story
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    Today is the federal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of U.S. foreign...
    January 16, 2012 | Story
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    "Makeda," the new novel by TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, is set at the dawn of the civil rights era. The book follows a young man coming of age in segregated Richmond, Virginia, who discovers his roots in Africa through his blind grandmother. "Sometimes when we think of slavery, we calculate the economic consequence of it," Robinson says. "But we have not calculated the psychosocial consequence of it, unless we...
    January 13, 2012 | Story
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    On this eve of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we host a wide-ranging discussion with TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson and author Michelle Alexander about the mass incarceration of African Americans that has rolled back many achievements of the civil rights movement. Today there are more African Americans under correctional control, whether in prison or jail, on probation or on parole, than there were enslaved in 1850. And more...
    January 13, 2012 | Story
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    Ahead of the Monday holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., we speak with two people key to establishing the day as a paid state holiday in New Hampshire—the last state to do so—replacing its optional Civil Rights Day in 1999. "I look at Mitt Romney talking about saving the soul of America and recall that the motto of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was 'to redeem the soul of America,'" says Arnie Alpert,...
    January 11, 2012 | Story
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    The family of a Dallas teenager Jakadrien Turner is demanding answers after she was deported to Colombia, despite the fact that she is a U.S. citizen and speaks no Spanish. Turner, a 15-year-old African-American runaway, was living in Houston when she was arrested for shoplifting and gave police a fake name that belonged to a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant from Colombia with warrants for her arrest. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement...
    January 06, 2012 | Story
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    His name might not be familiar to many, but his songs are sung by millions around the world. Today, we take a journey through the life and work of Yip Harburg, the Broadway lyricist who wrote such hits as "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and who put the music into The Wizard of Oz. Born into poverty on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Yip always included a strong social and political component to his work, fighting racism and...
    December 26, 2011 | Story
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    One of the major themes raised by the Occupy movement is the increasing power of large corporations over more and more aspects of our lives. We spend the hour looking into the issue of the corporate control of life itself. Our guest, Harriet Washington, is a medical ethicist and has just published a book that examines the extent to which what she calls the medical-industrial complex has come to control human life. In the past 30 years, more...
    October 31, 2011 | Story