Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Radio Series Evokes Powerful Images with Accounts of Civil Rights Struggle

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Radio Series Evokes Powerful Images with Accounts of Civil Rights Struggle

Article excerpt

The familiar saga of civil rights in the United States takes on new dimensions - and often new meaning - in "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." The powerfully moving 13-hour, 26-part Public Radio International documentary series premieres in many American cities this week (check local listings).

It is oral history of the best kind, describing the civil rights struggle between 1940 and 1970 primarily in first-person accounts, some 180 of them not heard anywhere before.

As the more than 250 reflective voices - black and white, old and young - slip in and out of the narrative, their personal stories evoke sharp images. They weave an engrossing tapestry that depicts the sweeping historical tale in convincing personal terms - aided by well-chosen and evocative popular music of the period. Five cities featured The series was initiated by the Southern Regional Council, a 77-year-old civil rights group based in Atlanta that today is working to protect minority voting rights and record racial attitudes. Written and produced by George King - with a prologue and epilogue by Julian Bond - the series is narrated by Vertamae Grosvenor and covers the civil rights movement in five cities: Atlanta; Little Rock, Ark.; Jackson, Miss.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Columbia, S.C. Some 17 years in the making, the ambitious project required extensive research - not only in museums, universities, and civil rights organizations, but also in attics, under beds, and in other nooks and crannies, to discover many long-forgotten narratives. Compelling medium The series takes the listener from the early efforts in the 1940s by Thurgood Marshall and others, through the Montgomery bus boycotts and other struggles, on to "American Apartheid" in Mississippi between 1940 and 1960. In the final program it ponders the question of whether the fight for civil rights is still needed today. What makes it work well is the medium itself. A decade ago the public TV series "Eyes on the Prize" told the story of civil rights in its own compelling terms. …

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