One of the things I love about podcasts is being able to learn about different things outside of a classroom and school. Regardless of how much schooling/education you have under your belt, you can always learn something new! There are many podcasts about many topics, including many about history. Podcasts like Buried Truths, Order 9066, and Making Gay History are some of my favorite podcasts because they’ve taught me about little known parts of United States history and have helped put some current events into a better perspective. Here are some recommendations for history podcasts:
Because when we understand who we were, we can better understand who we are. – Hank Klibanoff, episode 1
If there’s just one podcast you listen to this year, I really hope it’s this one. Buried Truths is from WABE in Atlanta, Georgia and is about three black farmers who decided to vote in the 1948 election in rural Georgia and the reactions from local white supremacists. In six episodes, host Hank Klibanoff shares how white supremacists in Georgia at the time were determined to stay in power and worked to suppress voting rights through legislation and intimidation. One of the black farmers who voted in the 1948 election was warned by a friend not to vote; another was savagely beaten by two white men for both voting and helping other black folks in the area to vote; another was sadly killed over this issue.
This show is important for the obvious reasons, as it sheds light on events and a history that was swept under the rug but had immense impacts on people, especially those present during that time. But it’s also important because it gives a larger understanding to issues we’re still dealing with today. At one point, Klibanoff talks about how self defense was used as a legal defense for the men who killed Isiah Nixon and it’s easy to see how that translates to different events happening today.
This is one show you should start from the beginning, as each episode builds on the last one. You can find it on many podcasting platforms.
Learning about LGBTQ history can be really hard, as it’s not often taught in schools and there aren’t many resources about this community’s history. But back in the 1980s/90s, Eric Marcus interviewed numerous LGBTQ folks for his book “Making Gay History: The Half Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights” that was published in 2002. But in late 2016, Marcus used some of the audio he still had from those interviews to create the podcast of the same name. So far, the show has had three seasons and you’ll be able to hear from folks like Sylvia Rivera, Jean O’Leary, Tom Cassidy, Ellen DeGeneres, Larry Kramer, and so many more.
This show is from the women’s community group, The Wing and takes a look at women who have been overlooked in history books. The show has just been released and their first episode took a look at Stephanie St. Clair, aka Queenie. Queenie ran a successful numbers game in 1920s Harlem and often used her wealth to advocate for racial justice.
From APM Reports and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, this show takes a look at Executive Order 9066 and the Japanese “relocation”/incarceration camps. Each episode shares different parts of the history, context, and first-person accounts of these camps, including the roundup of ~120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, life inside the camps, and how some joined the American military to fight in World War II.
This is another APM Reports podcast that partnered with The Washington Post and the Smithsonian’s relatively new National Museum of African American History. Each episode takes a look at an object that someone submitted that highlights real lived experiences of black history. There’s an episode about a family’s great great grandfather’s bill of sale as a slave, a recording of a great-grandfather playing the fiddle, a photo of a grandmother who worked as a ‘computer’ during World War II, and more.
Like I and many others have said before, history can teach us about ourselves, our lives, and the world around us. When we start to forget, ignore, and/or sweep history under a rug, we are doomed to repeat mistakes and forget just how we got here. Whether we realize it or not, history influences our lives and how we interact with others all the time and the aforementioned podcasts are just some of how people are keeping those stories and histories alive.