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The Fire This Time

Exiles on 12th Street: Episode Two

Hate crimes have occurred at alarming rates over the past two years: violence against African-American people creates pain and outrage, but policy makers offer us few solutions. In this episode, we ask: how can the fight for racial justice be accelerated, even as racism remains as violent today as it was during segregation? In the spirit of writer James Baldwin’s vehement call for black liberation, the second Exiles on 12th Street episode gives voice to local activists and artists fighting for change. Come think with us about civil rights with our guests:  civil rights lawyer Douglas White, community organizer Cidra Sebastien, the Reverend Marcus McCullough, and poet Cheryl Clarke. The episode is presented by your host, historian Claire Potter, executive editor of Public Seminar.

Here are some links and references mentioned in this podcast:

  • Author and civil rights activist James Baldwin writes about race relations in his book The Fire Next Time, which this episode references.
  • Douglas White, former New York State Commissioner for Human Rights, was arrested three times for his participation in civil rights protests in his home state of North Carolina during the 1950s and was most recently deputy commissioner of the New York Fire Department, where he focused on workplace equity for racial minorities, women and LGBTQ people. He was a founding member of the Black Law Students Union at Yale Law School.
  • Community organizer Cidra Sebastien is the associate executive director of The Brotherhood-Sister Sol, a community youth organization in Harlem, where she helps youth develop leadership skills to become catalysts for social change.
  • Reverend Marcus McCullough of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield, Massachusetts reflected on the aftermath of the Charlottesville attack and the process of healing. His essay, mentioned in the podcast, can be found online here.
  • As part of the Black Arts Movement, poet Cheryl Clarke created politically-motivated work with roots in African-American history. She is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose: copies of “Target: A Chapbook” (2018) can be ordered from Blenheim Hill Books, the bookstore she co-owns.

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