Current Event June 1, 2016
When Christopher Columbus was on his way back to Spain, he wrote a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella describing his voyage to the new world. Copies of this letter were made to spread the word of his discoveries. At some point before 1992, one copy of the letter was stolen from Florence, Italy and replaced by a forged copy. Then that copy of the letter ended up in the Library of Congress. The United States has now returned the letter to its place in Italy. Listen to hear more about what happened to this historic document.
In Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella "Heart of Darkness," an English sailor tells the tale of his voyage on the Congo River in Africa. The novel, which is set during the height of British imperialism in Africa, contrasts “civilized” Europeans with “uncivilized” African natives and describes the brutal treatment of Africans by European traders. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart" provides a contrast to Conrad’s story, describing the British colonization of Africa from the perspective of Africans. In this audio story, Achebe talks about how his understanding of "Heart of Darkness" changed over time.
Current Event February 18, 2016
After a pro-Beijing official was appointed to the University of Hong Kong, students protested. Nearly 20 years ago Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control. This protest shows it’s still an uneasy arrangement. Students boycotted classes for one week to push for more democratic leadership of their University. The new chairman of the University said that the students have been acting like they are on drugs. The chairman is a member of the Communist-controlled advisory body of China and also sits on Hong Kong’s Cabinet. Listen to this story to hear more about what is threatened in the mixing of politics, academics and the relationship between China and Hong Kong.
Current Event October 12, 2015
Columbus Day celebrates an event from 1492, but it didn’t become a U.S. Federal holiday until over 400 years later. Some people think it shouldn’t be a holiday at all. To some, Columbus did not “discover” America. Instead he represents the beginning of European colonization of America. Some states and cities across the United States are renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and celebrating Native American tradition and culture. Listen to this interview with advocates who pushed Minneapolis to rename this holiday.
Current Event January 22, 2015
Time capsules are used by communities across the United States to capture a moment in time and preserve artifacts for future generations. Colonial leaders in Boston, Massachusetts buried a time capsule under the Massachusetts State House in 1795. The contents from this time capsule have been removed and displayed. Listen to learn more about who buried the time capsule and what they found inside.
Current Event October 31, 2014
When we imagine a witch today, we think about a halloween costume with a pointy black hat, warts and a broom. This public radio story takes us back to a darker period in colonial America, when people believed that witches lived among them unnoticed. At this time, accusations of being a witch led to the Salem witch trials and the execution of more than a dozen women. We hear from an author who recently compiled a book about the reality behind these accusations of witchery, and what they say about society and stereotypes.