Theme: Student Protests

Over the past two years, students have increasingly taken to the streets to protest a range of issues, including Donald Trump as president, tolerance of gun violence, and now climate change inaction. This themed post on podcasts covering post-World War II student protest has been inspired by the Backstory podcast’s recent episode (#236) “Teen Activists: A History of Youth Politics and Protest.” Here we briefly outline a few podcast episodes and additional sources you can integrate into your US history classrooms on post-World War II student protesters in high school and college.

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Heat and Light – Revolution on Campus

The episode focuses on the racial tensions surrounding the construction of a segregated gym that sparked the student takeover of Columbia University in 1968. Host Phillip Martin speaks with scholars Stefan Bradley and Michael Kazin about how the takeover took place and inspired other major protests that year such as the Democratic National Convention.

Vietnamese Boat People – Riches to Rags

The story revolves around an oral history interview between the host Tracey and her brother Steve as her attempt to understand the traumatic experience of her family's escape from Vietnam by boat. As an immigrant coming of age story, fleeing Vietnam changed Steve, transforming him from a comfortable and rich boy to a reliable provider and man for the family.

Criminal – Lavender Scare

This episode tells the story of the Lavender Scare through the experience of a woman, Helen James, who was serving in the US military when she was dishonorably discharged for accusations that she was a lesbian. The episode situates her experiences within the broader Cold War-era Lavender Scare and concludes by discussing how veterans sharing this experience challenged this institutionalized homophobia.

Radio Diaries – Prisoners of War

The episode uses oral history interviews to describe the context and famous riot at the Long Binh Jail - a prison built by the US military outside of Saigon to house US soldiers during the Vietnam War. The episode focuses on the racial context that precipitated the riot, as more than half of the jail's population were African Americans.

Criminal – Carry A. Nation

The episode is a short overview of Carry Nation's leadership in the Temperance Movement in the late 1800s. You learn about how the hatchet became a symbol of her fiery political agenda in the Progressive era. Check out the variety of ways you can incorporate primary source analysis into your class along with this podcast.

Trending News: Indentured Servitude vs. Enslavement

In an interview, Gayle King corrected Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who claimed that in 1619 the first Africans arrived in Virginia as indentured servants. But where the first Africans in Virginia enslaved or contract laborers? And what were the legacies of these early laws governing indentured servitude in the New World? Here are some podcast episodes recommended for discussing the distinctions between indentured servitude and enslavement and their legacies today.

Scene on Radio: Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)

The episode, as part of the show's series Seeing White on race in America, focuses on the relationship between race, labor, and capitalism in American colonies.  The episode argues that certain laws and structure - "innovations" - became part of the foundation in the construction of whiteness as we understand it today.

Uncivil – The Sentence

The episode focuses on an indentured servant named John Punch who attempted to flee a tobacco farm with two other indentured servants in the Virginia colony in 1640. The episode unravels the impact of the conviction once all three were caught - while the two white men were sentenced to contract work for a period of time, Punch as an African American was sentenced to a lifetime of enslavement.

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