This week on From the Vault we conclude our celebration of Black History Month with a 1967 recording titled The Dispute over the Ownership of Anthony Burns. Conceived by Baird Searles and the 99.5 Radio Theater at WBAI studios in New York, this play was performed in response to the events of the 1960’s, at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Adapted from original court documents and letters by playwright and historian Jonathan Ned Katz and directed by Lois Adler, this radio performance tells the story of Anthony Burns, a slave born in Stafford County, Virginia in 1834. After escaping the slave masters on a ship bound for Boston, Massachusetts in 1853, Burns was captured a year later and became the center of the 1854 court case using the newly enacted 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.
Voice talent includes Niger Akoni, Susan Batson, Alan Becker, Gerald Fritz, Robert Lander, Margot Lewitin, Frank MacFee, David Margulies, Eric Nord, Douglass Ross, and Baird Searles.
This program was recently restored thanks to a grant funded in part by the GRAMMY foundation. This is the first rebroadcast of The Dispute over the Ownership of Anthony Burns since its original airing in 1967.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.
PURCHASE a copy of this program or learn more about the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.