Special Programming

Youth Radio – March 10, 2007

this episode is no longer available

American as Apple Pie: How Segregation and Terror Lost, 1940 – 54
This absorbing documentary demonstrates that equality under the law became viable for African Americans only after public opinion and federal policy had been turned against the white terror that enforced segregation and the denial of constitutional rights.

The program illuminates the mid-century battle for American hearts and minds with recordings of and recollections by such remarkable participants as A. Philip Randolph and Stetson Kennedy, as well as the better-known contributions of Thurgood Marshall and Paul Robeson.

In 1941 Randolph, head of the all-black Pullman Porters union, boldly threatened a wartime March on Washington to force recognition of the intolerable conditions blacks faced nationwide. His tactic effectively pressured President Roosevelt to back fair employment practices. Later, President Truman ordered desegregation of the Army and the federal government due, in part, to Randolph’s threats of mass civil disobedience during the Cold War.

White resistance to blacks’ rising aspirations threatened a replay of the bloody "Red Summer" of 1919, which was marked by violence against blacks and leftist-liberals. Kennedy, a journalist, investigator, and labor activist, courageously exposed the Ku Klux Klan and other such groups on their own turf. He recalls ridiculing the Klan by broadcasting Klan passwords on the /Superman/ radio show and wearing Klan robes into the U.S. capitol to embarrass the Committee on Un-American Activities.

American as Apple Pie: How Segregation and Terror Lost, 1940 – 54 makes it clear that despite ongoing white resistance, the path to change was well prepared by activists, both famous and obscure. In time, the Supreme Court announced the end of America’s legally separate and unequal society in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

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