Women’s Voices, Women’s Work

Are you marching (or supporting someone who is) this weekend?  Then get inspired by these ladies!

Looking forward to the Women’s Marches this weekend, we’re bringing together a collection of women’s voices: women who worked hard, pushed the envelope, and took risks to make their communities a better place.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire won the Nobel Peace prize in 1976

for starting Community of Peace People.  When she joined Studs in the studio in 1993, he asked her what sparked her action.  She told him that her sister’s children had been shot and killed as a part of the violence in Northern Ireland, which prompted her and others to start Community for Peace People.  In 1976, the Peace People began marching; after 6 months, the violence in Ireland dropped 70%.  They are still working today and are “committed to building a just and peaceful society through non-violent means.”

When Dolores Huerta joined Studs in the studio in 1975,

she talked about the terrible conditions that led her to fight for farm workers’ rights, and against the racism that Mexican-Americans were facing.  During that conversation, she takes some time to point out how especially terrible it was for women working in the fields.  Her mother did not let her work in the fields while she was growing up, so she was spared some of the worst abuses and humiliations.  Here she explains to Studs why the field work is so brutalizing, and what makes it even worse for women.

In 1969, Studs brought his microphone and recorder to a Puerto Rican street festival in Lincoln Park.

The festival was celebrating a new daycare that would be opening to serve the Puerto Rican residents, particularly those families on welfare.  The Puerto Rican community was facing a lot of backlash in the neighborhood.  The successful creation of the daycare would help stabilize families and as a result, the community as a whole. The combined factors of a community of immigrants, racial tension, and a changing neighborhood made the daycare and the street festival very hot-button issues.  In this clip, we hear an unnamed woman talk about the need for the center and the support it has received from community members.

In 1970, Studs spoke with Mrs. Alberta Patterson.

One of her sons was autistic, and in 1970 there were very few affordable resources for children with autism and their families.  Mrs. Patterson tells Studs about her struggles with doctors and schools, and a misdiagnosis which, had she complied with the doctor’s mistaken orders, would put her son in a group home.  She told Studs, “I was not satisfied with that solution.”  After much hard work and research, this led her to collaborate with “a blundering group of parents with an idea and a goal”  and educators to start the STEP school.

When Maya Angelou was in the studio talking with Studs about her memoir

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, he asked her to tell the story of getting a job as a streetcar conductor in San Francisco.  It turns out that Maya, as a teenager, was the first Black female conductor on the streetcars there.  Her readers and fans will not be surprised to know that this was the result of great perseverance on her part.  As Studs said to her, “You did not take no for an answer.”

These voices show us how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.  Just like these women, those marching this weekend are out there for education, workplace conditions and equality, and peace.

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Audio Collage: Civil Rights & Racism

Earlier this fall, I had the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress during the opening weekend of the exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Certainly it was inspiring to learn so much about the work of activists, politicians, and everyday people; but it also left me feeling a real grief for our country, that such a thing could have ever taken place here.  And yet it is in having an exchange – a conversation – about this history that may keep us from repeating it.

Studs Terkel understood the power that words and conversation have to affect not only our daily experiences, but the history we choose to make both personally and nationally.  In the conversations I listened to while preparing this collage, Terkel bears witness to the challenges that face underdogs of every stripe, and invites us to do the same.  He asks Muhammad Ali what it was like to read about Emmett Till’s death in the newspaper, when Ali was just a child himself; he talks to a young Puerto Rican activist about his struggles with the local alderman; and he listens to Maya Angelou recall seeing children speak disrespectfully toward her grandmother because she was Black and they were white.

Like the exhibit at the Library of Congress, Terkel’s conversations about civil rights simultaneously reveal the best and worst of human behavior; but through it all, he never loses heart.  He is obviously inspired by the stories he hears; and his speakers’ words, hopeful or heartbreaking, flow clearly through my laptop speakers, as potent as when he first recorded them.

Order of clips:  Pete Seeger; Maya Angelou (reading an excerpt from “When I Think About Myself”); Peter Sellars; three selections from the 1969 “Fiesta: A Chicago Happening” in Lincoln Park (male resident, Terkel, female resident); William Bradford Huie; Charles V. Hamilton; Muhammad Ali; Dr. Neil Sullivan; Terkel and Ali; friend of Paul Robeson at a tribute event; Myles Horton; Terkel and Rosa Parks; John D. Weaver; Daniel Berrigan, S.J.; Pete Seeger (singing).

Thank you to Allison Schein and Sophia Feddersen for their help in building this collage.

-Grace Radkins, Archive Assistant

Studs Terkel & Maya Angelou chat about con men

We are involved in some pretty exciting collaborations here at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.  At the moment, we’re working closely with the Chicago Humanities Festival, and with the Third Coast International Audio Festival; and we are very excited to add Blank on Blank to the list of partners!  Blank on Blank is the inaugural series of Quoted, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works with journalists, archives, and institutions to “transform raw, intimate storytelling into culturally relevant digital content.”  One of the ways they do this is through Blank on Blank’s clever and insightful animations of interviews. Continue reading →

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Using the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in the Classroom (part 1)

Studs Terkel loved to learn (as regular listeners know, sometimes he couldn’t ask his questions fast enough!) – and because his program reached so many listeners, he in turn became an educator.  Those of us at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive love a lot of things about Mr. Terkel, but we’re particularly passionate about continuing his educational legacy by introducing his material to new listeners and seeing it used in new ways.

Last week, we had the opportunity to meet with a group of teachers from public and alternative schools in Chicago to discuss using the Studs Terkel Radio Archive and the Exploring Music Archive in the classroom.  We came in with some specific project goals about teaching critical listening, but we knew that the teachers were the true experts.  After demonstrating some of the digital audio tools that we can provide, we asked for their input and feedback: how can we make our online collections and tools work for you?  We got some great suggestions, including a searchable taxonomy of musical terms, and the possibility of using time-stamped recordings and transcriptions as teaching tools for English-language learners.

You may have noticed that this post is Part 1 of a series; our hope is to have many more posts on this topic in the future.  In fact, our ultimate goal is to develop and curate an online repository of remixes made by students, combining their own recorded oral histories with Studs’ programs.  Imagine hearing Maya Angelou talk about her grandmother’s life in the South, and then hearing a student speak with her own grandmother about her life.  Or hearing Studs’ live footage of the near-riot situation at the Young Lords’ Lincoln Park Fiesta in 1969, and then cutting to a student interviewing a friend or relative who was there, too.  What about splicing Studs’ and Mike Royko’s conversations about journalistic integrity into students’ discussions about a school newspaper or a school blog?  The possibilities are endless and we are very excited to see what students and teachers come up with!

Are you an educator interested in using either of these archives in your classroom?  Please get in touch with Allison Schein, the Archive Manager, at aschein@wfmt.com.  We would love to help you do everything from brainstorming a lesson plan to teaching you the nuts & bolts of our audio remix software.

Special thanks to Bill McGlaughlin of Exploring Music, Rowan Beaird of Project&, Jordan LaSalle of Chicago Public Schools, and Barbara Radner of DePaul University’s School for New Learning!

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