Sunday, October 26, 2008

This American Life: "Take a Negro Home"

Ira Glass's NPR program, "This American Life," is one of my absolute favorite radio shows. A great Sunday treat is to settle in and listen to the latest strange, but compelling, slice of humanity captured by Glass and his crew. Even cooler, there is now a TV version of the show on Showtime!

Anyway, my race and politics class just read Doug McAdam's book, Freedom Summer, which focuses on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's historic 1964 summer voting rights project in Mississippi. The book focuses primarily on the roughly 1,000 affluent, white college-aged volunteers who came South for the summer to participate in this inter-racial experiment. One of the most interesting (and human) dynamics of this story, among many fascinating and important threads, was the relationships that were created across the color line and all the complexity that came along with those relationships. After a very energetic in-class discussion about this subject last Thursday, one of my graduate students mentioned a 2000 episode of TAL that featured a story about a white woman who married a black man during the civil rights era. Provocatively titled, "Take a Negro Home," here is how the website sets up the story:
Rich Robinson's father is black, his mother is white. They married during the civil rights movement, believing the whole nation was moving toward greater and greater integration. After having three children, they divorced. Rich's mom went back to her segregated white world. His dad returned to his segregated black world. In this story, Rich sets out to discover the role that race played in their divorce, and the role it played in their initial attraction. It's something he'd never discussed with them before. And he wants something more personal: advice on whether they think he should marry white or black. (27 minutes)
It is a fascinating yarn and well worth a listen. I hope you will kick back with your morning coffee and tune in to this fascinating story.

Thanks to Charles Kilntobe for letting me know about this program...

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