TRIBUTE TO ACTIVIST AND POET JUNE JORDAN/INDEPENDENCE DAY WITH FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Story: CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY WITH ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL VOICES OF THE ABOLITION MOVEMENT, FREDERICK DOUGLASS Today is a national holiday, commemorating the Fourth of July, when American colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. While many in America hang flags, attend parades and watch fireworks, Independence Day is not a cause of celebration for all. For Native Americans, it is a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought disease, violence, genocide and the destruction of their culture and way of life. For African Americans, Independence Day did not extend to them. While white colonists were declaring their freedom from the Crown, that liberation was not shared with millions of Africans captured, beaten, separated from their families and forced into brutal slavery thousands of miles from home. Now we go back 150 years, to one of the most powerful voices of the abolition movement: Frederick Douglass, born a slave in Maryland in 1818. As a young boy, Douglass was taught how to read by slaveholder Sophia Auld. It was a dangerous and radical act that changed his destiny. Douglass escaped from slavery in the 1830's and became a leader in the growing campaign against slavery through lectures and his anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star. On July 4, 1852, Douglass delivered one of his most powerful speeches against slavery in Rochester, NY. We go now to a dramatic reading of that Fourth of July Oration, performed by WBAI's Program Director, Bernard White. Fourth Of July Oration - from 1852 in Rochester, New York, by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Read by Bernard White, of Pacifica station WBAI in New York. Story: ON WHAT AMERICANS CALL INDEPENDENCE DAY, WE'LL PAY TRIBUTE TO ACTIVIST AND POET JUNE JORDAN, WHO LIVED HER LIFE AS A CALL TO TRUE FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND EQUALITY Today, on what Americans call Independence Day, we'll pay tribute to a woman who lived her life as a call to true freedom, democracy and equality. I am talking about June Jordan, poet, activist, essayist, teacher. She died recently at her home in Berkeley, California. She had been battling breast cancer for nearly a decade. She was 65 years old. June Jordan is the most published African-American writer in history. She burst onto the literary and political scene in the late 1960s, on the wings of the civil rights and anti-war movements. Poetry for her was a political act, and she used it to shine a fierce light on racism, sexism, homophobia, apartheid, poverty, and US foreign policy. We'll be joined by some of June Jordan's dearest friends and colleagues, including Alice Walker, Laura Flanders and Angela Davis. But let's start with June Jordan's own words, a poem June wrote over ten years ago about the Middle East. It could have been written yesterday. It is called "Intifada." June Jordan reads her poem "Intifada" poem, March 8, 1991. Alice Walker, African-American writer, poet and civil rights activist. She is author of many books and essays, including The Color Purple, for which she won the Pulitzer prize. Some of her other works are "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens," "The Temple of My Familiar," "Possessing the Secret of Joy," and "In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women." Laura Flanders, host Working Assets Radio, and author of "Real Majority, Media Minority; the Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting." Flanders was founding director of the Women's Desk at the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. She's been a senior correspondent for the Pacifica radio network, and News Director of the Pacifica Network News. June Jordan was a long time friend, colleague, and mentor to her. June Jordan, speaking out against the Persian Gulf War in Hayward, California on March 7, 1991, a week after the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. This is a recording from Pacifica's Peacewatch program. Angela Davis, radical black activist, academic, and author of "The House That Race Built" (1998), "Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture" (1996), and "Women, Culture, and Politics" (1989) and "Angela Davis: An Autobiography" (1974, reprinted 1988). June Jordan reading her poem "Lebanon, Lebanon". June Jordan reading her poem to rap artist Eminem, called "Owed to Eminem". Junichi Semitsu, Director, Poetry for the People, a program for the political and artistic empowerment of students at UC Berkeley. It was founded by June Jordan.