150 years ago tomorrow, President Lincoln delivered one of the best known speeches in American history. Do you remember, without looking it up, when the battle happened that inspired the speech? Today on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Bruce Levine about the significance of the Gettysburg address and the Battle of Gettysburg. Levine says that while the Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most important battles of the war, the Gettysburg Address is not the most important speech Lincoln gave during that time period. We’ll talk about why that speech became so famous and what that says about American history.
When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas in 1963, Richard Stolley was Los Angeles bureau chief for Life Magazine. He got a call soon after the news of the assassination broke that someone named Zapruder had caught the whole thing on film.
Bill Kemp recently penned his 400th article for the Pantagraph newspaper based in Bloomington-Normal. He’s been writing about history for nearly a decade and says even though we’re in a pretty rural part of the Midwest, he’s never been at a loss for an interesting tale to describe in his history column.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with him about his book “Pages from the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph.” We’ll learn more about Adlai Stevenson II, former Governor and 1950’s democratic Presidential candidate, and we’ll talk with Kemp about his accounts of myths surrounding the Underground railroad in Central Illinois and the Orphan Train movement.
This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look back at East Central Illinois’ connections to the first all-black group of United States fighter pilots with Jim Eldridge, former education director at the Octave Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul. Brad Lang, a professional pilot who volunteers with the Commemorative Air Force’s Red Tail Squadron also joins us. His dad, Donald, served with the Tuskegee airmen in WWII.
In 1963 when he made the trip from Champaign to Washington D.C., Bill Smith was 21. As an active member of the NAACP chapter at the University of Illinois, he says he remembers feeling awed and inspired by the sheer number of other people who were gathered at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Even as a high school student at Champaign Central, he says he was involved with bringing the blacks and whites together. But it was when he returned from the march that he says he was motivated to really become an agent for change.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Smith about his experience at 1963 March on Washington; his relationship with his long-time mentor Erma Bridgewater, and about the racial climate during the 1960’s in east central Illinois.
We’re also joined by Sundiata Cha-Jua, an Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about the significance of the march in the context of the larger movement and about Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Did you know someone who marched in a protest during the 1960’s? Did you? What was it like to be a part of one? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!
This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look through into history through the lens of a camera. Maureen Holtz, author of the new book “Images of America: Monticello” joins us to talk about some of the things that make Monticello’s history so rich. We’ll talk with her about the pepsin syrup factory that earned the town the title “patent medicine capital of the world,” and how she went about compiling the town’s history dating back to the 1800’s in authentic photos.
Then during the second half of this hour on Focus, Dannel McCollum, former Mayor of Champaign and author of “Remembering Champaign County” joins us. We’ll talk with him about March Madness on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Benjamin Franklin Harris, entrepreneur extraordinaire. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Dannel about the county’s first convicted murderer who was defended by Abraham Lincoln.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with journalist and author Mark Pendergrast about his book, now out in paperback, “For God, Country and Coca-Cola.” Pendergrast tells us about the now famous soft drink that started as an obscure patent medicine created by a small family owned business.
In his book, Pendergrast shares the guarded secret recipe for the cola…. We’ll hear about what ingredients comprise America’s beloved soft drink and if it’s true whether or not Coke actually contained cocaine in the early 1900’s.
So…coke or pepsi? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!
Uncle Joe Cannon served in the U.S. House of Representatives as speaker from 1903 to 1911 and is considered the second longest serving Republican speaker in history. He was featured on the first cover of Time Magazine and is remembered as one of the more colorful members of Congress.
This hour on Focus, we’ll remember Joe, his Illinois roots, and some of his more notorious moments as speaker in Washington D.C. Host Jim Meadows talks with Matt Wasniewski, a historian for the House of Representatives and Timothy Smith, an amateur historian and long-time Danville resident who is working on a biography about Joe.
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.