“We’re all sisters together”: Remembering the 1970 Women’s Strike

This post was written by one of our interns, Rachel Newlin.

On March 8th 2017, women across the world are planning to strike in an effort to create an International Day of Action in honor of International Women’s Day.

High schools and college campuses are closing in anticipation of the strike, unable to continue business without their female employees. This international strike is seen as ‘the beginning of a new international feminist movement’ and has been garnering great media attention across the United States. Women across the country are striking from paid jobs, childcare, housework, among other truths of female existence – and it all feels very familiar. That is because this will be the second Women’s Strike where thousands of women rise up and demand equal treatment and change under the law.

On August 26th 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, thousands of women marched across the country for many of the same things.

Second-wave feminist Betty Friedan led the strike, organized by NOW, the National Organization for Women. Friedan was met with a lot of resistance when she first brought up the idea of a strike – older women were scared that the strike wouldn’t turn out and the media would mock, them while younger generations of women were sure that the move wasn’t radical enough. Still, Friedan moved forward with the idea, and across the country, the idea caught on. Studs met with a few of these women in March of 1970, where he parsed complex ideas of oppression and the female experience with them in a fascinating two-part interview.

1970 Women's Liberation March, Washington, D.C.

1970 Women’s Liberation March, Washington, D.C.

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Cultural Connections with James Baldwin and Merce Cunningham

I Am Not Your Negro has opened to major critical acclaim.

It features the writings of James Baldwin, and is an exploration of a book on Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X that Baldwin never completed.  The film’s website describes it as “a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.”

In 1985, James Baldwin returned to Studs’ studio after a twenty-three year break, but their connection had not waned.  Studs starts off the hour by playing an excerpt of their 1961 conversation, which included a Bessie Smith song, and then asks Baldwin what has changed since that day.  He responds with very thoughtful observations on race, language and identity.

Closer to home, catch “Merce Cunningham: Common Time” at the MCA.

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s retrospective focuses on Cunningham’s many collaborations with his artistic contemporaries, including John Cage.  In 1971, Merce Cunningham and John Cage joined Studs in the studio to talk about their work together.  In the featured clip, they talk about chaos and experimentation in art, and what it means to “accept the mess.”  Merce Cunningham talks about what this means practically, while John Cage speaks more conceptually about Thoreau, forests, and thunderstorms.  This brief conversation makes it easy to see why they were such a synergistic pair.

Baldwin photo credit: By Allan warren – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22305867
EyeSpace photo credit: By Daniel Arsham – Daniel Arsham, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42645611

Happy Birthday Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte

Two lights of the entertainment and civil rights worlds are turning 90 this year, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.  Both men used their artistry and their fame to bring awareness to the plight of African-Americans in our country, as well to shine a spotlight on the amazing contributions African-Americans have made to our nation.

In 1959, Sidney Poitier visited Studs in the studio to talk about his new film The Defiant Ones.

In this clip, he tells Studs how he first became interested in acting.  It leads Studs to ask him, “Has the thought of playing a role, a person who is not necessarily Negro, just an actor; he is neither Negro nor white, just a certain character?  Has this thought occurred to you or come into your ken?”

“Oh of course it has,” replies Poitier.  In his response, he describes his hopes for a future we still have not attained.

In one of the earliest interviews we have in the archive, Studs sits down to talk with Harry Belafonte about music.

In this clip, Belafonte talks to Studs about how he perceives his responsibility as an artist: “I am intellectually conscious of the time when it first became evident to me that I had a responsibility as an artist, but my responsibility in relationship to my people, and in relationship to the culture of my people far surpassing anything else.  It was the recognition of this responsibility that I gave my artistic life a direction.”

Later on in the same interview, Studs and Belafonte talk about the role of the church in the African-American community.  Belafonte goes on to talk about Mahalia Jackson, how he believes that she embodies the role of a leader in the community and admires the way she connects spirituals and popular music.  He gives the example of her version of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and after talking about the history of the song, Belafonte asks to hear it.  You can hear it below.

We’re proud to have these men’s voices as part of our archive, and wish them both very happy 90th birthdays!

 

Poitier photo credit:  U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. (ca. 1953 – ca. 1978) – NARA – ARC Identifier:542075 (use http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_search.jsp and search Actor and Vocalist Harry Belafonte), Avalik omand, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=146400
By United States Department of the Interior National Park Service – http://www.nps.gov/features/malu/feat0002/wof/Sidney_Poitier.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28814756

“If Emmett Till lived, he’d have been your age”

In 1975, when Studs interviewed Muhammad Ali about his book The Greatest, Studs said to him, “If Emmett Till  lived, he’d have been you’re age, wouldn’t he?”  Hear Ali’s response here:

It’s likely you’re familiar with what happened to Emmett Till.  Twenty years before Studs interviewed Muhammad Ali, 14-year-old Till was visiting Mississippi from Chicago when he was brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman.  His murderers were acquitted and then confessed publicly.

Earlier this month, Vanity Fair ran a story about author Timothy Tyson‘s new book, The Blood of Emmett Till. In that article, Tyson revealed that the woman who was the alleged whistle-target (Carolyn Bryant Donham) has reneged what she said at the trial for Till’s murder.  The murder, and subsequent trial and acquittal, is credited by many as being the first spark – or last straw – that ignited the Civil Rights movement.

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“Equality is for Everybody”

Maryland suffragists picket the White House, 1917.

Working for women’s rights has a long history in our country and has taken many forms,

from the early suffragists in the mid-nineteenth century up through today’s movement to ensure STEM education for young women.  This Saturday, January 21, is the day of the Women’s Marches around the world. 215,000 people have RSVP’d to the Washington, D.C. event on Facebook, and another 1.3 million are expected to attend marches around the world, including over 60,000 here in Chicago[update as of 01/21 11:00 am central: 150K!]. (more…)

Inauguration Countdown

Studs was very interested in politics at all levels, from the grassroots movements in a neighborhood all the way up to the White House.  This is reflected in the archives’ interviews with organizers, city councilmen, and authors and journalists writing about our presidents.  As our nation prepares for our 58th inauguration ceremony for an American president, we’ve looked through the archives to find interviews about previous presidents and campaigns.

The faces of Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

In 1970, he spoke with Doris Kearns Goodwin about her time in the White House with Lyndon Johnson and the resulting book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.  In 1981, author David McCullough spoke to Studs about his book on Theodore Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback.  Studs spoke to multiple guests about Richard Nixon during his campaigns and terms, including Joe McGinniss, author of the The Selling of the President, 1968; and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about breaking the Watergate story, and their follow-up book, All The President’s Men

Be sure to check back later this week as we gear up for the Women’s March with programs on the ongoing struggle to pass the ERA.

Photo credit: By Dean Franklin – 06.04.03 Mount Rushmore Monument. (Resized by User:ComputerHotline, 20:17, 12. Mai 2007.), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7930156

A conversation on healthcare

Chicago’s Cook County Hospital

In 1976, Studs sat down with three doctors working in Chicago’s Cook County Hospital system: Dr. Quentin Young, Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Robert Maslansky, Director of Medical Education, and Dr. Lambert King, Medical Director of Cermak Memorial Hospital in Cook County Jail.  (For those readers who aren’t local, Cook County Hospital is where Harrison Ford as Richard Kimble in The Fugitive sneaks in as a janitor on his quest to find his wife’s killer.)

About a decade earlier, in 1965, Medicare and Medicaid had been signed into law and greatly changed how the “sick poor” in Chicago and elsewhere sought and received medical care.  Dr. Young sees a dichotomy developing: the public hospitals, where doctors are paid on a salary, treat patients in order to prevent illness; the private hospitals, where doctors are paid on a fee-for-service basis, treat patients after conditions have already arisen.  He tells Studs, “Our [public hospitals’] interests are changing the social conditions that send people to our doors, treating the patient in an early stage, or better yet, preventing the conditions that make his illness take place” as opposed to his understanding of private hospitals, where “all of their interests are in the sickness.”


Pro and anti healthcare protesters vie for space in front of televison camera. Demonstration for health care in front of the Hale Boggs Federal Building, Poydras Street, New Orleans, 2009.

It is clear that healthcare in the United States will continue to be a major point of contention for voters and elected officials.  Many things in medicine have changed since this interview was recorded forty-one years ago, but much of what these three doctors discuss is still very relevant: the balance of “laying of the hands” with tests and technology, the best way to educate new doctors, and the effects of financial decisions on the health of our nation.

Cook County Hospital photo credit: By Jeff Dahl (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Protest photo credit: By Infrogmation of New Orleans (Photo by Infrogmation) [GFDL 1.2, CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 2.5  or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Why We Vote: Women’s Issues

In this final week of campaigning, we’re exploring the ideals that send us to the voting booth and help us make these vital choices.  Verify your registration and find out where to vote here!

Women in this country have been fighting for the right to vote since the 1840’s, and were finally granted it in 1920 with the nineteenth amendment to the constitution.  Less that one hundred years later, we may elect our first woman president.

Women’s issues have not played a major role in this election cycle (unless of course you consider the issues surrounding a major candidate being a woman), but they have been a consistent point of contention since the mid-twentieth century.  In this post, we hear from three women working to make our country a better place for women.

Gloria Steinem joins Studs on the tenth anniversary of Ms. Magazine (1982); in 1970, Judy Collins stops by after a Ravinia concert to talk about her work with the Illinois Citizens for the Medical Control of Abortion (about 20 minutes into the interview); and finally we hear from Nora Ephron on her book Crazy Salad (1975).

But first, check out Blank on Blank‘s animated adaptation of some funny and insightful moments in Nora Ephron’s interview.

Photo credit: By K. Kendall [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/National_Women%27s_Day.jpg

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Why We Vote: education

In this final week of campaigning, we’re exploring the ideals that send us to the voting booth and help us make these vital choices.  Verify your registration and find out where to vote here!

In this post we’re looking at education.  The first interview features Mrs. Alberta Patterson, the mother of an autistic boy. She started the S.T.E.P. School in Chicago in order to meet his needs.  We also hear from Alice Jerome, the school’s director, and Sally Heynemann, a teacher.  These days, it is not unusual to hear about how best to educate children with autism, but this 1970 interview demonstrates the challenges that parents and students faced before schools were required and trained to educate students with autism spectrum disorders.

We reach further back in time to 1968 when Studs visited the St. Mary’s Center for Learning in Chicago.  The teachers and parents talk about their excitement for education, while the students share their passions for courses and teachers.  Educating young women, particularly in STEM subjects, has become a great talking point, and Mrs. Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative has made it global.  The teachers and parents at St. Mary’s believed it was a priority nearly 50 years ago – and much of what they say rings true for today’s students.

Next up – Why We Vote: Women’s Rights

Photo Credit: By Macruve (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

On October 27, 2016, UNESCO and the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations is celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

For this year’s theme, “It’s Your Story – Don’t Lose It”, we’re featuring a collection of American voices from the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.  This collection showcases the struggles and triumphs of Americans of all stripes, from students to activists to Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan.

Studs cherished all stories; the experience of a taxi driver was as relevant and worthy of respect to him as that of a newspaper editor, politician, or celebrity.  During the nearly fifty years he broadcast out of WFMT in Chicago, he heard and shared stories that together create a compelling and vital picture of our nation through the second half of the twentieth century.


American Voices

1963: Bob Dylan was in Chicago for a show and spent an hour speaking with Studs about songwriting and folk music.  Looking at the archive with historical perspective, we can see that Studs often spoke with people early in their careers who would go on to be American cultural leaders.  This is one such time.

1965: Studs traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for the culmination for the march from Selma to Montgomery.  He recorded nine programs worth of interviews while he was there and we’re featuring two here.  He talks with both African-American and white citizens of Montgomery, and in the second program speaks with a woman who was raised in Nazi Germany and came to the United States as an adult.

1967: On Mother’s Day 1967 a “Be-In” was held in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.  Studs stopped by with his recorder and spoke to fellow participants.  This program is in two parts.

1970: Students from Chicago’s Metro High School talk about their experience at this unique school in which Chicago itself serves as the classroom.

Also that year, Studs’ fellow broadcaster, Elsa Knight Thompson of KPFA, talks to him about what makes a great interview.

1973: Author Hunter S. Thompson talks about his time on the Nixon campaign and the resulting book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.  About halfway through the interview, they play a recording of a disabled Vietnam veteran, Ron Kovic, protesting the campaign (courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives).  Kovic is unknown in 1973, but he would go on to write Born on the Fourth of July

1974: Ed Sadlowski has just won an upset victory in the election for director of the largest district of the International Steel Workers Union.  Ed and his wife Marlene join Studs to talk about labor history, their families, and why Ed saw a need for change in his union.  This program includes the original advertisements from the broadcast.

1982 marked the tenth anniversary of Ms. Magazine.  Studs talks with its founder Gloria Steinem.

1992: Astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife, science writer Ann Druyan, talk with Studs about humankind and what makes us who we are – the subject of their book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

1996: Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert joins Studs for a two hour conversation on Roger Ebert’s Book of Film: From Tolstoy to Tarantino.

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