21: Some of our favorite segments about racial identity and civil rights

shuttlesworth-dinnerWe’ve amassed quite a few recommendations since this podcast launched in April. Triple Take is a podcast about the books, albums and films that shape us, and we’ve had little repetition of picks. Save for “To Kill A Mockingbird,” which has shown up three times, each guest has selected art different from his or her predecessors.

Even so, themes have developed. Many guests have talked about race relations, civil rights and identity issues. (We’re based in Birmingham, after all, site to so many historic moments in the civil rights movement.) In honor of this week’s Annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, we’re revisiting three such segments.

The Shuttlesworth award is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s highest individual honor. This year’s recipient is U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. In a press release, the institute said Norton is “an iconic torch-bearer for the legacy of the civil rights movement and as a hero to the powerless and disenfranchised.”

The awards celebration will take place Saturday at The Lyric Theatre. The event will include music by Dr. Henry Panion III and orchestra, Eric Essix, Belinda George Peoples and the Birmingham Sunlights. Ticket prices start at $100 and are available at bcri.org.

In this episode, Elizabeth Hughey talks about Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet,” Edward Bowser discusses “Malcolm X” and Victor Luckerson talks about “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Each offers insight into how these works influenced their understanding of human and civil rights issues and how that affects them moving forward.


EPISODE 6: Elizabeth Hughey on Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”

“We had black history (in school), we had sections on the civil rights movement in Birmingham, we watched ‘Eyes on the Prize’ in our philosophy classroom. But at the time when I watched that, I was like, wow, that’s rough. I’m glad that’s over. I didn’t understand how far we were in Birmingham from being liberated and equal and a peaceful place for everyone. So that voice coming through on this album, this very powerful voice and the words we were saying, I was like whoa. There is a big world out there and I don’t know it yet.”

Hughey’s other picks were “Play” by Moby, “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Hear the full episode here.


EPISODE 7: Soul in Stereo blogger Edward Bowser on “Malcolm X”

“We saw that Detroit Red was a horrible person, and even when he ascended to become Malcolm X, he still had to learn and grow in that role. The last half of the movie, the last third of the movie, we saw that he overcame his own prejudices within the Muslim community. It was just so much growth and so much real poignant understanding.

At that point, it was really something that stuck with me because it showed that even people we consider icons or heroes are just as flawed as we are.

“There is this perception in our country that in order to have racial tolerance, we have to say we’re all the same. Everyone’s the same. You’re no different than me, blah, blah, blah. No, I’m very different than you. And that’s great, because those are the experiences that make us different.”

Bowser also selected “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor and Missy Elliott’s “Supa Dupa Fly.” Hear the full episode here.


EPISODE 4: TheRinger.com’s Victor Luckerson on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

“You realize that it’s (the n-word) for the use of creating a certain world, a fictionalized version of what really existed at that time. I guess for me, that validated the use of it. I wasn’t upset about it. … I thought it was kind of trickier because a lot of times in your writing, especially writing for a publication, you’re sort of hamstrung by what your pub thinks is appropriate. I remember one time in college, as editor of the paper, someone had chalked racial slurs across campus and we had a front-page story about it. I wanted to use the n-word written out without abbreviations, without censorship. I thought it was important for people to see the word, see the impact of it, to get the visual feeling you would have gotten if you saw it on campus that day. … I saw using the word could be powerful, written out in its entirety.”

Luckerson also talked about Outkast’s “ATLiens” and The Chappelle Show. Hear the full episode here.

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