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Stuff You Missed in History Class

Black History Episode Guide


Seneca Village

July 27, 2020 • 42 min

Seneca Village was a predominantly black community that built itself from the ground up. But its story is fragmented. Even though it existed at a time when it could have been fairly well-documented, there was a vested interest in erasing it.



July 22, 2020 • 49 min

In part two of this topic, the show looks at some of the specifics of the COINTELPROs that targeted black liberation organizations and the New Left, as well as how these programs were finally exposed to the public.



July 20, 2020 • 46 min

FBI surveillance of people associated with the civil rights movement has come up on the show many times. Today, we’re going to talk about the history of the FBI, especially as it related to communism and “subversive threats,” and how that fed directly into COINTELPRO.


Free Frank McWorter

July 15, 2020 • 40 min

Free Frank McWorter was the first black man in the U.S. to design a town and establish a multi-racial community. He did this despite having been born into slavery. 


Ignatius Sancho

July 13, 2020 • 39 min

Ignatius Sancho was the first black Briton known to vote in a parliamentary election – that happened in 1774. He became something of a celebrity in 18th-century London.


Abraham Flexner and the Flexner Report

July 8, 2020 • 46 min

The Flexner Report in the early 20th century is often credited with changing the medical field and shaping what medical education looks like today. But this document negatively impacted medicine in the black community.  


Thomas Dorsey and the Birth of Gospel Blues

June 24, 2020 • 36 min

For a long time, Dorsey lived a sort of double life creatively. When he combined the two forms of existing music he played, he created something new, and changed religious music forever. 

James Baldwin

June 17, 2020 • 37 min

James Baldwin was a brilliant essayist, one of the chroniclers of the Civil Rights Movement, and a powerful voice against racism. 

Interview: Dr. Calinda Lee of the Atlanta History Center

February 26, 2020 • 59 min

Holly was joined in the studio by historian Dr. Calinda Lee to talk about her work with the Atlanta History Center, and specifically the new exhibit "Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow."

Paul Cuffe: Sea Captain, Philanthropist, Pan-Africanist

February 12, 2020 • 37 min

Cuffe protested taxation, built wealth for himself in whaling, became a Quaker and used his fortune for the betterment of others. He was also an advocate creating a colony in Africa that people of African ancestry could immigrate to in search of a new life.


(Almost) 100 Years of the Equal Rights Amendment

February 10, 2020 • 46 min

The first version of the equal right amendment was first proposed almost 100 years ago. This amendment has been through cycles of support and opposition, but one thing that’s held true is that the loudest voices on both sides have been women. 


The Lunch Counter Sit-ins, Greensboro and Beyond

January 29, 2020 • 43 min

On Feb. 1, 1960, four students sat down at a segregated lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. It started with just four of them, but others joined, and sit-ins were taking place around the U.S.


Ethiopia's Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela

December 25, 2019 • 41 min

The complex at Lalibela was excavated from volcanic rock about 700 years ago, and has been in continuous use since then. It's connected to the overall history of Christianity in Ethiopia -- different from Christianity in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.


SYMHC Classics: The Tulsa Race Riot and Black Wall Street

November 9, 2019 • 30 min

This 2014 episode came up recently because of the event's inclusion on a television show. "Black Wall Street" was a nickname for Greenwood, a vibrant suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was destroyed in a race riot in 1921. And while Greenwood's destruction was definitely the product of racial tensions, the event was much more one-sided.


Benjamin Lay, the Quaker Comet

August 21, 2019 • 45 min

Benjamin Lay was a Quaker and a radical abolitionist who lived in the period between when the Religious Society of Friends began and when it started formally banning slave ownership among its members.


The Port Chicago Disaster

July 17, 2019 • 45 min

This was the worst stateside disaster in the United States during World War II. Apart from being a horrific tragedy, the disaster itself and its aftermath were threaded through with racism and injustice. 


Red Summer, 1919

June 3, 2019 • 41 min

In the summer of 1919, a wave of racist violence played out in the U.S. In many ways, the violence of Red Summer was a response to (but NOT caused by) two earlier events: the Great Migration and the return of black soldiers who had fought in World War I. 


They Were Her Property: An Interview With Stephanie Jones-Rogers

May 8, 2019 • 39 min

Holly was lucky enough to chat with historian Stephanie Jones-Rogers, author of “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South,” which pieces together details that add new understanding of slavery in the U.S.


6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

March 25, 2019 • 42 min

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was part of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. The 6888th was the only battalion of black women from the U.S. to serve in Europe during World War II.


Mary Winston Jackson, NASA Engineer

February 11, 2019 • 39 min

Jackson is most well known as the first black woman to become an engineer at NASA. But she also worked to clear the way for other underrepresented people at NASA, in particular black women.


Sojourner Truth, Pt. 2

January 16, 2019 • 43 min

Last time, we talked about Sojourner Truth's enslavement and how a religious vision after she was free led her to moving to New York City. Today, we’re picking up with another vision, which marked a huge shift in how she lived her life.


Sojourner Truth, Pt. 1

January 14, 2019 • 35 min

Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the 19th century. But because a speech most famously associated with Truth is a version rewritten by someone else, she’s commonly imagined as a different person from who she actually was.


Buddy Bolden and the Birth of Jazz

December 19, 2018 • 37 min

Bolden is often referred to as the first jazz performer, and his playing is legendary. But his life story, cluttered by lack of documentation and misinformation, played out tragically after his ascension to the apex of the New Orleans music scene.


Shirley Chisholm

November 5, 2018 • 40 min

From her college years, Chisolm was politically active. Her drive and desire to make positive change led her to many political firsts, including being the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress.


Dred Scott vs. Sandford part 2

July 18, 2018 • 34 min

When Dred Scott v. Sandford was decided in 1857, the court decision ruled that enslaved Africans and their descendants weren’t and could never be citizens of the United States, whether they were free or not.


Dred Scott vs. Sandford part 1

July 16, 2018 • 36 min

Dred Scott v. Sandford is one of the most notorious Supreme Court cases of all time. It wasn’t just about Dred Scott. It was also about his wife Harriet and their daughters Eliza and Lizzy. This episode covers Dred and Harriet, how they met, and what their lives were like before petitioning for their freedom in 1846. 


Elizabeth Jennings Graham

June 25, 2018 • 35 min

Today’s topic is a person who is sometimes called a 19th-century Rosa Parks. When Elizabeth boarded a horse-drawn streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, a chain of events began which became an important moment in the civil rights of New York's black citizens.  


Ida B. Wells-Barnett

June 4, 2018 • 42 min

Ida B. Wells-Barnett connects to a lot of episodes in our archive. She fought against lynching for decades, at a time when it wasn’t common at all for a woman, especially a woman of color, to become such a prominent journalist and a speaker.


SYMHC Classics: Jimmy Winkfield, Derby Pioneer

May 5, 2018 • 19 min

Today's episode revisits the story of Jimmy Winkfield, who won the Kentucky Derby twice. When this podcast was published originally, he was the last African-American jockey to win the race. Winkfield moved abroad in 1904 to continue his career, but it wasn't until 2005 that Congress honored his work.  


Wendell Scott: Black NASCAR Driver in the Jim Crow Era, Pt. 2

April 25, 2018 • 43 min

Scott eventually managed to break into NASCAR racing, becoming the first black driver to do so. His career was a constant struggle, as he paid his own way and often had to be his own pit crew while competing against sponsored drivers.


Wendell Scott: Black NASCAR Driver in the Jim Crow Era, Pt. 1

April 23, 2018 • 33 min

Wendell Scott was a black driver from the early days of NASCAR. After driving a taxi, working as a mechanic, and hauling moonshine, he started racing in the Dixie Circuit and other non-NASCAR races in Virginia


The Life and Magic of Henry 'Box' Brown

April 9, 2018 • 35 min

Brown was born into slavery and escaped in an astonishing way. His story of gaining his freedom was so sensational that he basically spent the rest of his life making a living talking about it in one form or another.


SYMHC Classics: Marian Anderson

March 24, 2018 • 36 min

Today's show returns to Marian Anderson. An acclaimed contralto, Marian Anderson was barred from singing in Constitution Hall because of her race. The concert she sang at the Lincoln Memorial instead influenced a young Martin Luther King Jr.


Phillis Wheatley

March 5, 2018 • 40 min

Perceptions and interpretations of Phillis Wheatley's life and work have shifted since the 18th century. This episode examines Wheatley's published writing while enslaved, and how her place in the world of black literature rose, fell, and rose again. 


The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

February 7, 2018 • 39 min

Memphis sanitation workers stayed off the job starting January 12, 1968 in a strike that lasted for nine weeks. This was the strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated on April 4 of that year.


The Wilmington Coup of 1898, Part 2

January 17, 2018 • 47 min

In 1898, a mob of armed white men enacted a violent plan against Wilmington, North Carolina’s black community. It was the only known successful coup d’état in U.S. history; the white mob overthrew the duly elected government of Wilmington.


The Wilmington Coup of 1898, Part 1

January 15, 2018 • 36 min

Resistance to post-Civil War reconstruction efforts, hotly contested elections, political corruption, and open racism all led to a climate of unrest and white supremacist violence in late 19th-century Wilmington, North Carolina.


Three Astonishing Belles

December 11, 2017 • 42 min

This episode features three unique women, all of whom are notable in their own way. The two things they have in common: They each have a surprising aspect to their stories, and they each have the name Belle. 


The Motherhood of Mamie Till-Mobley

August 28, 2017 • 42 min

The reason Emmett Till's murder played such a consequential role in the Civil Rights movement is because of choices of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. For more than 45 years after his murder, she continually worked to make sure he did not die in vain.


Frederick Douglass

July 31, 2017 • 42 min

Frederick Douglass was an orator, writer, statesman and social reformer. His early life shaped the truly remarkable advocate he became, and the two primary causes he campaigned for — the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. 


The Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

May 8, 2017 • 41 min

The MOVE organization is often labeled as a black liberation group or a black power group, but it’s more complex than that. After a protracted, contentious relationship with Philadelphia police, MOVE’s home was bombed in 1985.


The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

April 19, 2017 • 45 min

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is one of the modern world's most infamous incidents of unethical medical research. The study's researchers told its participants that they were being treated for syphilis, but in reality, they weren't. 


Jamaica's Maroon Wars

February 22, 2017 • 40 min

Maroons are Africans and people of African ancestry who escaped enslavement and established communities in the Caribbean and parts of the Americas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Jamaica's Maroon communities clashed with British colonial government.


Bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple

February 20, 2017 • 36 min

Rabbi Jacob Rothschild was a vocal activist who spoke out for civil rights despite the danger in doing so. White supremacists bombed The Temple in Atlanta in a direct reaction to Rothschild's work for equality.


Belinda Sutton's Post-enslavement Petitions

December 14, 2016 • 32 min

After she became a free woman, Belinda Sutton successfully petitioned for compensation for her years of enslaved labor. This was one of many legal efforts of enslaved and formerly enslaved people to advocate for themselves in Massachusetts courts.


The New Orleans 1900 Race Riot

September 26, 2016 • 46 min

In July 1900, an interaction between New Orleans police and two black men set off a chain of horrific events. A man hunt, bloodthirsty mobs and senseless murders were all catalyzed by that meeting in a city already grappling with racial tension.


John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

September 12, 2016 • 35 min

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, set out to create an armed revolution of emancipated slaves. Instead, it became a tipping point leading to the U.S. Civil War.


Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with John B. King

August 31, 2016 • 38 min

Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. discusses the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which gave rebelling states 100 days to return to the Union or have their enslaved population freed during the U.S. Civil War.


U.S. Contraband Camps

July 20, 2016 • 36 min

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government was simply not prepared.


Mary Ann Shadd Cary

July 11, 2016 • 41 min

She was a black Canadian-American who became the first woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper. She advocated against slavery, for better lives for free black people, and for women's rights.


Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement (Part 2)

June 22, 2016 • 39 min

Because of his previous ties to the Communist Party, his race, and his sexual orientation, the McCarthy era was extremely dangerous for Rustin. This was one of many reasons why his activism focused on other countries in the 1950s. 


Bayard Rustin, 'Angelic Troublemaker' (Part 1)

June 20, 2016 • 36 min

Bayard Rustin was an openly gay black man born in 1912. He spent his life working tirelessly for equal rights, peace, democracy, and economic equality, including being one of the primary planners of the 1963 March on Washington.


Harriet Tubman, Union Spy (Part 2)

June 15, 2016 • 37 min

There was a whole lot more to Harriet Tubman's life and work than her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. During the United States Civil War, she worked as a Union spy, eventually earning the nickname "General."


Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad (Part 1)

June 13, 2016 • 37 min

Most people are familiar with her involvement with the Underground Railroad, but Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union during the Civil War, among many other things. Untangling the truth from the myth is the trickiest part of her story. 


Robert Smalls: From Contraband to Congress

February 17, 2016 • 35 min

After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was the beginning of an impressive career as a free man. 


The Incredible Escape of Robert Smalls

February 15, 2016 • 30 min

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1839. He escaped from enslavement during the U.S. Civil War, in a particularly dramatic fashion. 


The Vanport Flood

February 3, 2016 • 35 min

On May 30, 1948, a flood destroyed Vanport, Oregon. What really makes the story more than a historical footnote is how it tied in to the racial makeup of both Portland and Oregon at the time.


The Harlem Hellfighters and Henry Johnson

November 2, 2015 • 32 min

In WWI, a black U.S. Army unit became one of the most decorated of the war. When these soldiers returned home, they were greeted as heroes, but were still targets of segregation, discrimination and oppression. 


A Brief History of Redlining, Part 2

October 7, 2015 • 32 min

Part two of this discussion of redlining explores the language that assessors used when making color-coded maps of neighborhoods in segregated cities. These maps were used to determine whether mortgage lending in those neighborhoods was desirable


A Brief History of Redlining, Part 1

October 5, 2015 • 31 min

Redlining is a word used to describe a lot of different patterns of economic discrimination. But during the Great Depression, real estate-related discrimination included systemized grading of neighborhoods based on the races that lived there.


Frankie Manning and the Lindy Hop, Part 2

May 20, 2015 • 33 min

Once Manning became a professional dancer and choreographer, his work took him all over the world. After WWII derailed his swing dancing, he had a hard time returning to a world where musical tastes had changed. 


Frankie Manning and the Lindy Hop, Part 1

May 18, 2015 • 28 min

Frankie Manning grew up loving dance, learning and practicing in ballrooms and private parties in New York. His innovations in creating new moves for the Lindy hop led him from dancing as a hobby to a career as a performer.


The St. Kitts Slave Revolt of 1834

May 11, 2015 • 31 min

Until the 1830s, the dominant industry on St. Kitts was sugar, and the majority of the people living there were enslaved Africans who kept that industry going. When the act that was supposed to free them fell short of doing so, the slaves rebelled. 


The Aftermath of Brown v. Board

February 25, 2015 • 34 min

Though the Brown v. Board ruling overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, it didn't suddenly solve the segregation problem and end racism in the United States.


The Road to Brown v. Board

February 23, 2015 • 34 min

It would be next to impossible to have ever had a class on American history or the American Civil Rights Movement and not heard about Brown v. Board. But the case is much more complicated than just one child in one segregated school system. 


Plessy v. Ferguson

February 16, 2015 • 30 min

The ruling in this infamous U.S. Supreme Court case stated that segregation was legal as long as the separate facilities were equal. But most people are more familiar with the name of the case than with the actual events that transpired around it.


The Tulsa Race Riot and Black Wall Street

July 28, 2014 • 33 min

"Black Wall Street" was a nickname for Greenwood, a vibrant suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was destroyed in a race riot in 1921. And while Greenwood's destruction was definitely the product of racial tensions, the event was much more one-sided.


The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

February 26, 2014 • 37 min

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first African-American labor union to be recognized by the American Federation of Labor. What started as a campaign for more money and better treatment became an important force for social change. 


Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Pt. 2

February 5, 2014 • 25 min

Rosa's arrest for breaking bus segregation laws catalyzed the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the keystones in the American Civil Rights Movement. It was widely covered in the national media, which brought more attention to the struggle for equal rights.


Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Pt. 1

February 3, 2014 • 30 min

Anyone who has ever heard about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States is sure to know that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. But that's but a tiny sliver of her life story. 


Loving v. Virginia, Part 2

April 17, 2013 • 42 min

Mildred and Richard Loving's relationship went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court when they were arrested for breaking Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. On June 20, 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to the ACLU asking for help.


Loving v. Virginia, Part 1

April 15, 2013 • 27 min

Mildred and Richard Loving's relationship went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court when they were arrested for breaking Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. On June 20, 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to the ACLU asking for help.


Double Agent: James Armistead and the American Revolution

January 7, 2013 • 27 min

James Armistead was a slave in Virginia, but got his master's approval to enlist when the Revolutionary War came. Armistead worked as a spy, and his story is one of many free and enslaved African-Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War. 


Bessie Coleman: Daredevil Aviatrix

February 22, 2012 • 31 min

Bessie Coleman knew that becoming a pilot was her dream. Because she was a black woman, no American flight schools would admit her. Despite the obstacles, Bessie managed to become the first African-American woman in the world to earn a pilot's license.


Leading the Charge: The Massachusetts 54th

February 20, 2012 • 32 min

A 1792 law prevented African Americans from taking up arms in the Civil War. As attitudes against blacks serving changed, black regiments were formed. But prejudices remained until the heroism of black soldiers won the attention of the nation. 


Jack Johnson and the Fight of the Century

February 6, 2012 • 34 min

During Jack Johnson's time, the heavyweight championship was unofficially a whites-only title. Despite discrimination, he fought title-holder Tommy Burns in 1908. Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion, but some questioned his legitimacy.


The Freedom Rides: Nashville Steps Up

September 19, 2011 • 19 min

When Nashville college students picked up where CORE riders stopped, they were eventually incarcerated in Mississippi. Yet more riders kept coming. Tune in to learn more about this major victory for the Civil Rights movement in this follow-up episode.


The Freedom Riders: CORE's First Wave

September 12, 2011 • 19 min

In 1961, buses and terminals in the South were illegally segregated. The Civil Rights group CORE sent riders to test the law, riding from D.C., to New Orleans. However, no one was prepared for the violence that waited in Alabama.


Civil War Spies: Mary-Elizabeth Bowser

July 13, 2011 • 21 min

After her father died, Elizabeth Van Lew freed the family slaves, including a girl named Mary. When the Civil War began, sources say Mary became an agent in Van Lew's "Richmond Ring." Join Sarah and Deblina to learn more about Civil War spies.


Jimmy Winkfield: Derby Pioneer

May 2, 2011 • 19 min

Jimmy Winkfield won the Kentucky Derby twice, and he was also the last African-American jockey to win the race. Winkfield moved abroad in 1904 to continue his career, but it wasn't until 2005 that Congress honored his work. 


The Amistad Mutiny

April 6, 2011 • 24 min

In 1839, Africans held captive by slavers revolted and ordered the Amistad's crew to return to Africa. However, the ship was captured in Long Island and the slaves were put on trial -- but that's not the end of the story. 


Sarah Breedlove Walker & Sarah Rector: Who was America's first black millionairess?

February 28, 2011 • 24 min

Often, when people discuss America's first black female millionaire, they're talking about a women named Sarah Breedlove Walker, also known as Madame C.J. Walker. But someone else, another Sarah in fact, may have beaten her. A black girl named Sarah Rector became a millionaire in 1911 or 1912, when she was only 10 years old.


The Crafts' Escape to Freedom

February 16, 2011 • 30 min

When Ellen and her husband William made their escape from a life of slavery in Georgia, they traversed over 1,000 miles to reach freedom.

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