1.18.16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan 18, 2016

Think Civil Rights era, and you think the south...home to Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, and peaceful marchers set upon by police dogs. Selma, Birmingham, Little Rock. Well, how about Boston and Brooklyn?  Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a history of progress and regression in a region that considered itself blind to race. 

Also today, the songs of Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger provided a soundtrack for an era of optimism and anger. If we have indeed entered a new Civil Rights era, what do today's protests songs sound like?

Plus, the untold story of one of Martin Luther King Jr's confidantes, businessman Stanley Levison.

Listen to the full show:

Protest Songs Circa 2016

We spoke with Justin Charitya staff writer with Complex magazine about what protest sounds like in 2016.

Related: What Protest Songs Sound Like in 2016

Martin Luther King's Secret Advisor

The names of many of Reverend Martin Luther King Junior’s associates are well known: Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young. But one of his most important confidants, a Jewish business man from New York named Stanley Levison, has remained largely hidden from public view. From what we know about him, Levison probably would have wanted it that way. 

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.

Jason Sokol: All Eyes Are Upon Us

UNH History professor Jason Sokol identifies some big gaps between the North’s political liberalism and abject bigotry.

He spoke to us about the conflicted soul of the northeast as covered in his book, All Eyes Are Upon Us

The Dream Before the Dream

On August 28th, 1963 close to a quarter of a million people poured onto the Washington Mall to show their solidarity with the growing Civil Rights Movement. It was the march on Washington for jobs and freedom and the venue where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, but he didn't debut the speech in Washington D.C..

King gave an earlier version of his now famous speech on June 23rd of 1963 at the Detroit walk to freedom. The event was organized by the Detroit Council for Human Rights. It was conceived as a way to commemorate the race riot that took place in the city 20 years earlier. But it was also an event to protest the current state of race and economic relations both in the urban north and the American south.

Producer Zac Rosen spoke with a handful of Detroiters who were at the gathering in June of ‘63.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.