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KKK with burning cross


How the South Won the War [1865–1876]

In the period immediately following the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was formed by ex-Confederate officers with the stated purpose of "saving the South" from integration and racial equality. For many years, historical accounts of this era emphasized the perspectives of white segregationists, for whom white supremacy was a valued cultural norm, and black freedom a threat.  How the South Won the War puts these white supremacist perspectives in a broader context, highlighting white resistance to black equality following the war, including the use of threats and violence by white citizens and vigilante groups like the KKK.  Just as importantly, the episode also highlights the perspectives of black Americans during this time, as African American communities across the South struggled to make real the promise of freedom, equality and political suffrage.






The wrecked 'Record' building and a group of vigilantes.


Democracy's Denial: Revolutions in Wilmington
[1898 and After]

In 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina's majority African American population was a direct threat to local white supremacists. After months of agitation against the black community, and provoked by a stream of propaganda and stereotypes about the "immorality" of black men, armed white citizens overthrew the elected government of white Populists and predominantly black Republicans. White mobs killed an unknown number of black residents, burned the town's black newspaper, exiled the mayor and many officials, and drove thousands of black men, women and children out of town.  The federal government looked the other way, marking a pivotal moment in the rise of Jim Crow and the strengthening of white supremacy. And even though the Wilmington coup d'etat had a profound impact on the long-term racial and economic realities of the South and the country in general, it was left out of national history books for many years. This program tells of the events of 1898 and the subsequent racial conflict in the Wilmington of 1971, concluding with events in 1998, when the community finally begins to face its past.






A white Protestant choir


White Protestant Nation [1915–1925]

White Protestant Nation portrays the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 and the new forms of racism that developed in the first two decades of the 20th century. The program covers the "reincarnation" of the Klan as a mass fraternal movement that tried to enforce its version of public morality while actively opposing immigration by what the Klan called "alien cultures."  Highlights include a recreation of the 1920 Election Day "race riot" in Ocoee, Florida, told in the words of black writer Zora Neale Hurston and of contemporary newspaper accounts; and the impact of the film Birth of a Nation, which glorified the Klan and invoked the Bible to support white supremacy. The program also explores the complex interplay of white American religion and white supremacy, as one strain of American Protestantism provided the ideological foundation for white supremacists' "re-birthing" of the Klan.  On the other hand, religion also played a central role in black resistance to both slavery and white supremacy.






A burning shack in Rosewood


Rosewood Reborn [1923 and After]

Rosewood Reborn recounts the Rosewood, Florida, massacre of 1923, when an alleged attack on a white woman sparked days of racial rioting, during which white mobs destroyed the African American community, and killed a still unknown number of residents.  Rosewood's fate was an open secret for six decades. The terrorized survivors stayed silent, and subsequent generations of the public "forgot" what had happened, until in 1992 two survivors of the massacre filed a claim against the state of Florida.  In 1994 the legislature finally awarded Rosewood survivors and descendents $2 million dollars.  This was the first time in U.S. history that Americans were awarded reparations for mass racial violence.

Rosewood Reborn is narrated by James Earl Jones and uses participants' and witnesses' own voices to tell the story of the community's destruction and the survivors' path-breaking struggle for justice. This episode chronicles a story of violence and horror, but also a story of heroism and hope. Rosewood Reborn connects living history with issues that remain controversial and urgent today.






Paul Robeson


American As Apple Pie: When Terror Lost in America

Equality under the law for African Americans became possible only after public opinion and federal policy turned against the white supremacists who used violence to enforce segregation and deny rights to black citizens.  This mid-century battle for American hearts and minds includes the voices of the participants in, and leaders of, such little-known events as the 1941 plan by A. Philip Randolph, leader of the all-black Pullman Porters union, to organize a wartime march on Washington; renewed threats of mass civil disobedience in the late 1940s, pressuring President Truman to order desegregation of the American military and the federal government; the national anti-lynching campaign led by Paul Robeson and others; the race riots taking place in towns throughout the country but relegated to the back pages in the name of maintaining an image of "unity" in time of war; the successful union organizing drives uniting black and white workers throughout the South; and much more.  In these years a movement was forged that would place civil rights in the foreground of public and government attention.










Media and Myths


Media & Myths

When the U.S. first faced the question of what role millions of free African-Americans should play in society, the news press was itself in transition.  The popular "penny-press" was beginning to replace newspapers connected to political parties. The change would bring new standards to the news media.  As journalism became a distinct profession, it aspired to a new model that increasingly valued accuracy and objectivity as more conducive to the public good than journalistic allegiance to political parties or causes.  Similarly, the newly "independent" news media claimed to be more "fair" and "balanced" than its "biased" partisan rivals.  Yet over the next 90 years journalists would champion both white supremacy and racial equality. What can this history of media racism and racial advocacy teach us about the press today? This special discussion-starter program covers the entire time period of the episodes in Between Civil War and Civil Rights.








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