My son recommended the podcast 1619 to me. It was an excellent place to start my quest to learn more about systemic racism. The series aired in August of last year and won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize, the first podcast to ever be given the coveted award.
1619 is narrated by Nikole Hannah-Jones and I loved the way she interspersed incidents and people from her own life with the information she presented in each episode. One of the stories she told was about a favourite uncle who dressed in red from head to toe for Nikole’s university graduation. He was SO proud of her. He died of cancer at age 50 because of systemic racism in the American health care system.
The podcast’s name comes from the fact that the first slaves were brought to America in 1619. In an article in the Michigan Daily Nikole talks about how every American schoolchild knows the name of The Mayflower the ship that brought the first Pilgrim settlers to North America in 1620 but few know the name of The White Lion which was the ship that brought slaves there a year before.
Although you learn lots of history from listening to 1619 the thing I liked most about the podcast was the fascinating people I got to know.
People like June and Angie Provost, sugar cane farmers from Louisianna who lost their family farm because of systemic racism against Black farmers in the banking industry. They are fighting back and taking their case to the public so other farmers won’t have to experience what they did.
People like Rebecca Lee Crumpler the first Black woman to graduate from medical college and become a physician in the United States. She had a practice for poor women and children in Boston but after the Civil War, she moved to the south to provide medical care to freed slaves. She was subjected to intense racism and sexism but remained dedicated to her profession.
I can highly recommend 1619 as an engaging and eye-opening experience on the road to learning more about systemic racism. You can listen to the episodes here.