Associated Press
August 26, 2013

Remembering the March on Washington

50 years ago this week, hundreds of thousands descended upon Washington D.C. for one of the largest protest marches of the civil rights movement. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Champaign-Urbana native Bill Smith about what it was like to be there. We’ll also talk with Sundiata Cha-Jua about the march’s historical significance.

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Rainbow Flag With Illinois Outline
January 09, 2013

Rainbow Illinois: A Survey of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Central Illinois

Attitudes towards and about the gay community are changing rapidly. At the ballot box this fall, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to support same sex marriage. Many organizations have anti-discrimination policies that include language regarding sexual orientation. Younger people seem more inclusive than previous generations when it comes to sexuality. And yet, there are still people in the gay community who feel they are not fully a part of the wider community around them. And there are those in that wider world who aren’t ready to accept gay people as full citizens.

We’ll discuss the findings of a recent survey designed to give voice to the downstate Illinois LGBT experience. It’s an update to a similar survey from the year 2000, and it suggests the climate has changed in a number of ways, from more support of issues surrounding gay rights, to fewer workplace complications, to a general sense of tolerance of one another, regardless of sexuality. But it also finds that downstate Illinois, while more tolerant, is not necessarily outwardly supportive of the gay community – or, at least in the eyes of the respondents to the survey, there is room for improvement.

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May 28, 2012

Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I

Two hundred thousand black soldiers were sent to Europe to fight in World War I. Historian Adriane Lentz-Smith says that experience gave many black people their first taste of life outside of the American racial system. She says it led them to imagine a different world, one that they worked to make real when they returned home. In a program from the archives, we’ll look at the ways that World War I shaped the civil rights movement in the United States. That’s the subject of Adriane Lentz-Smith’s book "Freedom Struggles."

This is a repeat broadcast from Thursday, January 14, 2010, 10 am

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May 23, 2012

Flagrant Conduct: the Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans

In 1998, two Houston men were arrested and charged with having sex…a violation of Texas law. Gay rights activists took up the case and when it was all over…the US Supreme Court had overturned the law…and similar laws in twelve other states.  That is the standard story of Lawrence v. Texas but there is much more to the story than that. Our guest will be Dale Carpenter professor of law at the University of Minnesota and author of Flagrant Conduct. The book presents some surprising features of the case including the willingness of the two men charged to admit to something they didn’t do in order to challenge an unjust law.

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May 03, 2011

Freedom Riders 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

With Raymond Arsenault, Ph.D. (the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History, the University of South Florida, St. Petersberg), and Thomas M. Armstrong III (Civil Rights Activist and Freedom Rider; author of the book, Autobiography of a Freedom Rider)

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