Are you intrigued by the past? Do you have a favorite factoid about Champaign-Urbana history? Today on Focus, we talked about curating local history.
During this hour on Focus, we’ll start by looking at history through the lens of a comic book. Amateur historian, artist and Associate Professor of New Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Kevin Hamilton has just published the comic titled, “A Place in Time, Two Paths to a Television Broadcast.” It chronicles a national television broadcast by Public Broadcasting Lab, the show that later turned into 60 Minutes, which originated in Urbana in 1968. He'll join us to talk about the comic book, what inspired it and why he thinks chronicling events like it give us unique perspective.
Timothy Cain who co-directs the UIUC’s Ethnography of the University Initiative, also joins the conversation. He’ll tell us about the project, how it archives hundreds of research projects every year and provides undergraduates the chance to research university history. We’ll talk about research that has uncovered facts about student sub-cultures and their influence on campus and community life and how displaying history can work to influence a sense of community. Barb Garvey, Assistant Director of the Museum of the Grand Prairie, also joins the conversation to talk about other local history projects and why they’re important.
This hour on Focus, we’ll consider the notion of America as a Christian nation, as we talk with Dr. Richard Hughes, a Professor of Religion at Messiah College. He explores this concept in his book Christian America and the Kingdom of God. In it, Hughes considers how religious and political leaders have historically used this belief to reinforce a sort of messianic nationalism, characterizing the United States as God’s “chosen nation” – a view Hughes holds has led to an increase in power and influence among fundamentalist Christians, but has ironically led to unchristian behavior.
The University of Illinois Press' “The War of 1812” by Wayne State College Professor Donald Hickey offers a comprehensive and authoritative history of the War of 1812.
An estimated one out of every five Americans has been diagnosed with one or more psychological or physical disabilities. That makes disabled Americans one of our largest minorities. And yet, most of our history books pay little notice to the role the disabled have played in our nation’s past. We’ll discuss the contributions of the disabled to our laws, policies, economics, popular culture, and collective identity, with Kim Nielsen, author of A Disability History of the United States.
Born in 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary is a writer, lecturer, editor, and teacher based in San Francisco. He directs the San Francisco Writer’s Workshop, teaches through the Osher Institute, and writes fiction and nonfiction about Afghanistan, Islam-and-the-West, democracy, current events, social issues, and as he says, "my cat, and other topics as they come up."
For years, Frederick Hoxie asked students to name three American Indians and almost universally, the names mentioned were the same: Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Many Americans see Indians as occupying a position outside the central narrative of American history. It’s almost a given that Native history has no particular relationship to the conventional story of America. Indian history may be seen as short and sad, one that ended a long time ago.
In This Indian Country, Hoxie creates a counter-narrative; Native American history is also a story of political activism, with victories in courts and campaigns rather than on the battlefield. For more than two hundred years, Indian activists have sought to bridge the distance between their cultures and the republican democracy of the United States through legal and political debate. Over time their struggle defined a new language of “Indian rights” and created a vision of American Indian identity, engendering a dialogue with other activist movements.
Among the people discussed in “This Indian Country” is Sarah Winnemucca, who was the first American Indian woman to publish a book in the U-S. Follow the link below to read Winnemucca’s “Life Among the Piutes.”
Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln introduces moviegoers to a different element of the 16th President's character. Behind the myth, he was a political animal. The movie displays Lincoln in his final days, fighting for passage of the 13th Amendment the the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery. It's easy to remember President Lincoln as a larger-than-life figure. But this film reminds us that, while he was a legendary President, he was also a man. And that man started his professional life as an attorney in Central Illinois. We'll discuss Lincoln's time in the region, and the man behind the myth, with Lincoln historian Steve Beckett, Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Advisory Board, and Guy Fraker, author of the book Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency.
A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.
The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams fought for George Washington, served with Abraham Lincoln in Congress, witnessed Bunker Hill, and as a staunch opponent of slavery, foresaw that slavery would lead to civil war between the North and South. He is, in fact, the only major figure in American history who knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. His opposition to slavery inspired John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Yet he remains one of the least-known presidents in our nation's history. We'll talk with biographer Harlow Giles Unger about John Qunicy Adams.
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