Archive for the Podcasts Category

Episode 173: Maya Angelou, Part One

Posted 31 March 2021 by
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Dave Allocca LIFE Photo Collection 1994

 

This episode includes non-graphic descriptions of assaults, including one of a child. We give a heads-up in the body of the episode.

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, teacher, director, producer, mom, and friend but she was most masterful at sharing her life and wisdom with the most perfect collections of words. We use the bests one we can muster up to share her remarkable life story.

This is going to take us two episodes.

In this episode, we cover the early years of a girl named Marguerite Annie Johnson who was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother and father, Vivian Baxter Johnson and Bailey Johnson, Sr, may have started their marriage passionately in love, but not long after their son, Bailey, Jr., and the little girl whose name her brother couldn’t pronounce were born, the marriage was winding down. Little Maya and Bailey spent their childhood with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. A short trip back to live with their mother in St. Louis ended about a year (and a traumatic event for Maya) later and the two headed back to Mama Annie, in Stamps. If you would like to learn more about the Rosenwald schools, this is a good source.

We cover the 5-year span where Maya didn’t talk, the development of her love of words, a reunion with a mother she barely knew, and end with a character-changing event that set a teenage Maya on a path of adventure and heartache.

Also, Susan, and her faulty memory had to go back to Schoolhouse Rock.

All of our media recommendations with be in Part Two, but we did want to leave you with a little homework. This exercise had a huge impact on a young Maya…and on us: Listen to this song, then go read the lyrics…out loud. You don’t have to be with anyone but yourself.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the glist’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

Read more about the history of this important song at NAACP

 

Break music: Spy vs. Spy, by Sound 73; End music: Hymnal, by Town Monster

Used with permission iLicence Music

 

Episode 173: The Bowery Boys and the Shirtwaist Strike of 1909

Posted 15 March 2021 by
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We have been talking with our friends Greg Young and Tom Meyers, The Bowery Boys, for years about doing a project together. This isn’t that, but it is a subject that a lot (A LOT) of people have requested of us. Because it’s a bit out of our focus, we thought there’s no one better than Greg and Tom, experts in New York City history, to tell you about the city’s early 1900s women’s protest movements and how they are tragically tied to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. (more…)

Episode 172: Women of the Wild West, Revisted

Posted 2 March 2021 by
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First up: Calamity Jane

 

Belle Starr

 

And we end with end with Kansas City’s own, Annie Chambers

After spending so much time talking about the Harvey Girls and Fred Harvey, we got to thinking of their contemporaries (more…)

Episode 171: The Harvey Girls

Posted 23 February 2021 by
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Harvey Girls, undated, Creative Commons

Over 100,000 women left their hometowns for adventure, a job (and maybe to find a husband) to become Harvey Girls. These poised, skilled, efficient, charming women waited on customers in Harvey House restaurants all across the US and stayed to help establish communities in growing towns.  But, it’s impossible to tell the tale of these brave women who helped settle the American West without talking about the man behind them: Fred Harvey.

Mr. Fred Harvey, the man behind the women. Public domain

(more…)

Episode 170: Ella Fitzgerald, Revisit (and a request)

Posted 2 February 2021 by
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From a rough start on the streets of Harlem to the Apollo stage, smokey clubs, years on the road, and in recording studios Ella led the world through the trends and wild ride that was the musical scene during most of the last century.

If Ella’s story touches you like it touched us, would you please consider supporting the musical arts in your own community or through the Jazz Foundation of America? This is not sponsored, it’s just a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and we know that, with no shows, live musicians are struggling around the country due to the pandemic.

Shownotes and recommendations for this episode are here, in the Way Back Machine.

Episode 169: 10th Birthday Love Letter

Posted 19 January 2021 by
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On January 20, 2011, we launched the show with a three-minute introduction explaining what this podcast was going to be. It was recorded the very first time we sat down in front of a microphone and it’s a little…raw. Truth be told, we didn’t fully know what the show was going to be like, we just had a vague idea: women’s biographies told conversationally with a touch of irreverence. Likewise, we had no clue what being a podcaster meant, Beckett always describes that time as a, “nearly vertical learning curve.” (more…)

Episode 168: Shirley Temple Black

Posted 8 January 2021 by
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via Flickr, Gushi Soda

We kick off 2021 with optimism and a charming smile, but Shirley Temple Black was a lot more than just an adorable, emotional cheerleader through the Depression, that was only her first act. (more…)

Mrs. Claus: A biography revisited

Posted 24 December 2020 by
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Mrs Claus- subject of literature, film, and art…but who was she? (Photo Courtesy Enesco)

Mrs. Claus isn’t a one-dimensional support player in Santa’s life- when the spotlight shines on her it’s easy to see depth, wisdom, wit, beauty, endurance, and some really amazing cookie recipes. As is our tradition (and we’re all about the traditions over here) today we are sharing the story of Mrs. Claus for Christmas! (more…)

Episode 167: Charlotte Brontë, Revisted

Posted 7 December 2020 by
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A familiar portrait of  Charlotte, a chalk drawing by George Richmond in 1850. wikicommons

This week we’re revisiting our discussion of the life of Charlotte Brontë (entirely because we made a gamble and lost–explanation in the first minute of the episode.) Charlotte didn’t let her circumstances and the discouragement of others stand in the way of her goal of becoming a published author; she got knocked down over and over before she was able to present the world with one of the most beloved heroines in literary history. Along the way, we have a chance to talk about the lives of her literary sisters: Emily and Anne. (more…)

Episode 166: Pocahontas, Revisited

Posted 23 November 2020 by
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As we in the US celebrate our Thanksgiving this week, we thought that this was a perfect time to revisit Pocahontas, the real story not the Disneyfied one. All links to things we talked about can be found on the original shownotes from 2017, POCAHONTAS SHOWNOTES.

Break music: Courtesy of James Harper of Harper Active; End Music: Daughters of History by Morning Spy