Julius Lester helps us conclude our celebration of Black History Month with an interview done specifically for this episode of From the Vault. Lester recounts, among other things, his earliest memories of the Civil Rights Movement, his time at WBAI in New York, the genesis of the term “Black Power,” and his reasons behind writing To Be A Slave as a children’s book. We then transition into the final episodes of Pacifica’s compelling radio adaptation of To Be A Slave, which weaves together the culture, history, and personal stories of American slavery, chronicling the slave experience on a very intimate level. Lester’s 1968 work – brought to life in this production – challenges the emotional and moral boundaries of listeners with first-person accounts of slavery using original language and language patterns as written by abolitionists, historians, and slaves themselves over the past 200 years. This radio adaptation was originally produced in the 1980’s by Ahna Armour for the KPFK radio series Morning Reading, and is now broadcast again for the first time in nearly thirty years.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio listeners.
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