Freedom's People

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Overview | Significance | Background | Plot | Cast | Resources | Episodes

Overview

Freedom's People (1941-1942) was an OTR eight-part documentary series focused on African-American life, culture, and history.

Significance

The first major radio series focusing on African-American life, culture, and history.
Created by Dr. Ambrose Caliver, a specialist in African-American education within the Department of Education, and included a wide variety of African American intellectuals, musicians, and actors.
Only two episodes are thought to survive from the original eight-part series.

Background

Freedom's People was produced by the Federal Radio Education Committee in the U.S. Office of Education. The series was created by Dr. Ambrose Caliver, a specialist in African-American education within the Department of Education, and enlisted a wide variety of African American intellectuals, musicians, and actors, including E. Franklin Frazier, Sterling A. Brown, Joe Louis, A. Philip Randolph, Fats Waller, Jesse Owens, Cab Calloway, Josh White, and Paul Robeson. The series was the first to focus on African-American life, culture, and history.

Destination Freedom and New World A'Coming both followed the lead of Freedom's People and focused on African-American issues. Destination Freedom (1948-1950), written by Richard Dunham, broadcast on Chicago, Illinois, radio station WMAQ, focused on the struggle of blacks to attain social freedom. "The Death of Aesop" episode (13 February 1949) script available at Generic Radio Workshop website.

New World A'Coming (1944-1947), broadcast on New York radio station WMCA, focused on political and racial issues in the U.S. military and at home.

Plot

Each episode dealt with an aspect of African-American life, culture, or history.

Cast

E. Franklin Frazier, Sterling A. Brown, Joe Louis, A. Philip Randolph, Fats Waller, Jesse Owens, Cab Calloway, Josh White, Paul Robeson, and others.

Resources

Freedom's People episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library website
Destination Freedom radio logs at Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs website
Destination Freedom episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library website
Destination Freedom at American Radio Works website
New World A'Coming episodes at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library website
New World A'Coming at American Radio Works website

Episodes

Totals

Total episodes: 8
Surviving episodes: 2

Timeline

1941-1942
National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

Inventory

All Freedom's People episodes available at Old Time Radio Researchers Group Library website.

  • Music
    Episode 01, 21 September 1941, available
    Sound file of episode available here
  • Science and Discovery
    Episode 02, 19 October 1941, not available
  • Sports
    Episode 03, 23 November 1941, not available
  • Military Service
    Episode 04, 21 December 1941, not available
  • The Negro Worker
    Episode 05, 18 January 1942, not available
  • The Education of the Negro
    Episode 06, 15 February 1942, not available
  • Creative Arts
    Episode 07, 15 March 1942, not available
  • The Negro and Christian Democracy
    Episode 08, 19 April 1942, available
Two Surviving Episodes
  • Episode 1

    Music
    Episode 01, 21 September 1941

  • Episode 8

    The Negro and Christian Democracy
    Episode 08, 19 April 1942