Current Event June 19, 2014
The Second Amendment is only one sentence long. It allows for individuals to own and use guns. But since its inception, the meaning has been debated. There is still no public consensus around its meaning. Listen to this public radio story to learn more.
Current Event June 3, 2014
The movie Gone With The Wind was released in 1939. This story of love and survival in the Civil War resonated with audiences and critics alike. It won 10 Academy Awards and when adjusted for inflation it remains the highest grossing movie ever. The story’s path from print to screen was not a quick or easy one. Listen to learn more about the film’s production and how a movie about the Civil War won the hearts and minds of people in 1939 and to this today.
Current Event May 23, 2014
A school newspaper in Philadelphia is refusing to print the word “Redskin,” the name of their school mascot, in the newspaper because of its racist roots. Some parents and students feel that’s taking political correctness too far. They say it’s not the role of student journalists to alter the name of a team’s mascot. Now the school board will weigh in and decide whether or not to force the paper to print the name of the team’s mascot.
Current Event May 13, 2014
Anglo Americans were once considered “illegal aliens” in Texas, then a Mexican state. This story is a modern day road trip to the Alamo that looks back to 1836 when American settlers fought with Mexico to eventually gain control of Mexico and the Southwestern territories. It explains how the dividing line between America and Mexico was drawn.
Current Event May 2, 2014
Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With The Wind was an instant success when it was published in 1936. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a national bestseller. Mitchell was inspired by her family’s history as Southern planters and their stories of the past. The novel’s themes of love and survival resonated with some, but her portrayal of slavery and the Civil War, through the eyes of a slaveholding woman, remains controversial. Listen to learn how the Georgia county that served as inspiration for the book is dealing with this legacy today.
Current Event January 29, 2014
President Obama laid out a sweeping agenda in his State of the Union address. He called for a "year of action" on many important government changes. He told Congress he wants to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment, fix immigration laws and ensure equal pay for women. Listen to this story for a short wrap-up of the one hour speech and then discuss with your class.
Current Event January 21, 2014
Kate Byroade knew her family once owned slaves. She feels uncomfortable acknowledging that her ancestors dominated other people, but she knows that the story is important. As Kate has learned more about her family’s past, it has become increasingly personal for her and hard to reconcile. For instance, she felt troubled when she learned that an ancestor once owned an 8-year-old child. Listen to this story to hear more about how Kate thinks about her family’s slave-owning past.
Current Event January 20, 2014
The movie '12 Years a Slave' has inspired some people to uncover connections between their own families and slavery. A San Francisco man talks about how he felt when he discovered his ancestors had been slaves in North Carolina. He studied old documents and record books that revealed both struggle and resilience in his family’s past. These stories feel deeply personal to him, and they’ve affected him in powerful ways. Listen to learn more about what this man and others have learned about their ancestors.
Current Event January 20, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. had many ties to Boston in the 1960's. He donated his personal papers to his alma mater, Boston University. Listen to this story and hear how many people in Boston remember the young King.
Current Event December 10, 2013
The California Gold Rush of 1849 inspired thousands of prospective gold miners to move to California in search of wealth. The Gold Rush peaked in 1852, but people still find gold in California rivers. When the U.S. economy was in a recession in 2007 and 2008, gold prices started to rise and a new generation of gold prospectors headed to California. Listen to hear from these modern day prospectors and learn what drives them in their search for treasure!
Current Event December 8, 2013
Outlaw Jesse James and his gang have become synonymous with the Wild West and horseback outlaws of the era, but the story behind his actions is far more complex. James and other members of the James-Younger Gang were Confederate guerrillas, known as Bushwhackers, before and during the Civil War. At the end of the war ex-Confederates were on the losing side and suffered the consequences. Disenfranchised and numb to violence after what they had witnessed during the war, they sought justice and revenge from the winners of the war. Listen to learn more about the life and exploits of these well-known outlaws.
Current Event December 7, 2013
The works of American author Mark Twain are widely studied, but the man behind this famous pen name is less understood. Samuel Clemens was born in a small Missouri town and through challenges, travels and adventures he became and created Mark Twain. This self-educated “border ruffian” became a successful and famous “Connecticut Yankee” by combining his life experiences, sense of humor and renowned writing talents. Listen to learn how the life of Samuel Clemens created the Mark Twain we know and love.
Current Event December 5, 2013
Phillis Wheatley lived an extraordinary life. Born in West Africa and sold into slavery in Boston, Massachusetts, Wheatley became the first published African-American woman and poet. In addition to being a poet, Wheatley exchanged letters with religious leaders and philanthropists. Some of her letters have survived, including one in which she reflects on the American Revolution. Listen to learn about this valuable letter, which was auctioned off in 2005.
Current Event December 4, 2013
Slavery is a horror of history. The capture and transportation of human beings from Africa to North America through the Middle Passage is an experience that is hard to imagine. First-person slave narratives were the first honest account of the experience and were used by the abolitionist movements in Britain and the United States to show the reality of slavery. Listen to learn more about the first-person account of freed slave Olaudah Equiano, shared in his autobiography in 1789.
Current Event December 3, 2013
Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s most influential founding fathers, but he was much more than that. An author, printer, politician, scientist and diplomat Franklin lived a surprising and fascinating life. Listen to learn more about the path of this great statesman from a printer apprenticeship in Philadelphia to an influential scientist and diplomat in Paris.
Current Event December 2, 2013
American poet Emily Dickinson was known as an eccentric recluse throughout her life. Dickinson maintained friendships through letter writing. She wrote poetry privately. Her unusual poetry style wasn’t truly discovered until after her death in 1886 when her sister Lavinia found nearly 1,800 of her sister’s poems. Though Lavinia had promised to destroy her sister’s papers, she instead had the poems published, which led to Emily’s fame as a great American poet. Listen to learn how her poetry continues to be an inspiration today.
Current Event November 29, 2013
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech to honor those who had died at the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought in July of that year. After a two hour speech by politician Edward Everett, Lincoln spoke for just over two minutes. In just 272 words Lincoln explicitly linked human equality and democracy to the Union war effort. This statement of purpose has lived on and remains one of the most famous speeches of the Civil War. Listen to hear the Gettysburg Address and learn more about the historical context in which it was delivered.
Current Event November 20, 2013
Davy Crockett lives in the American imagination as a legendary frontiersman and defender of the Alamo. Crockett lived an extraordinary life in the 1830s, but became even more famous in the 1950s when Walt Disney chose Davy Crockett as a character for his new theme park, Disneyland. From the coonskin cap to his death at the Alamo, this story analyzes the reality behind the myth of Davy Crockett’s life.
Current Event November 20, 2013
President John F. Kennedy remains one of most popular presidents among African-Americans. He helped Dr. Martin Luther King get out of jail and stood for civil rights policies. Tragically, he was not able to personally complete the bill for equal rights, though his successor did. Listen to this story about how JFK struggled to stand up for civil rights despite an important party of opposing opinions and escalating violent acts.