WNET

Strange Fruit: A Song Born of Protest

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This video segment explores how the song Strange Fruit became one of the best known and most enduring songs of protest. In 1939, the legendary blues singer Billie Holiday performed the song as a daring criticism of the commonplace practice of the lynching of African-Americans. Civil rights groups such as the NAACP had made countless appeals, but it was Holiday’s haunting rendition that made it impossible for white Americans and lawmakers to ignore the widespread crime.

Estimating Costs, Estimating Profits

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In this video segment from TV411, Franklin works with Laverne to create a budget and understand his pay for a job painting a room. Franklin is not sure if he should take on a job where he will be paid $250 for painting a friend’s family room. He must take into consideration the cost of supplies as well as how long the job will take him. He consults with Laverne and realizes he has to make some estimates to come up with the budget for the job.

John Janey: The Courage to Flee and to Fight

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Learn about actor Courtney B. Vance’s ancestor, an enslaved man named John Janey, who ran away to freedom and later fought on the Union side during the Civil War in this video from Finding Your Roots. Through newspaper archives, Underground Railroad chronicles, and military records, a dramatic story begins to unfold about the epic life of a true American hero.

The Birth of a Nation

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In this video from The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, learn about the film The Birth of a Nation. This 1915 silent film was adapted from the novel The Clansman, which dramatized southern life in the period of Reconstruction. The story presents Ku Klux Klan members as noble men and vilifies southern black men as sexual predators of white women. While the N.A.A.C.P. tried desperately to have the film banned, it was to no avail. After the film's release, rampant white violence against black men spread across the South.

The Supreme Court | A New Kind of Justice

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Explore the creation, intention, and language of the Fourteenth Amendment in this video, from the series The Supreme Court. One of the most enduring outcomes of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment, promised the government would protect the rights of citizens of the United States. While Congress was given explicit rights through the Amendment to protect newly freed slaves in former Confederate states, the language of the Amendment sometimes presented ambiguities. This video, from the series The Supreme Court, explores how far the federal government could go to ensure the “privileges or immunities” of citizenship.

Wilmington: A Peaceful City Turned Violent

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This video from The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow examines the factors that lead to violent and irreparable change in Wilmington, North Carolina. In the years following the Civil War, Wilmington, with a prosperous and growing African-American middle class, was a city that exemplified peaceful co-existence between the races. But in the 1898 election, when the white-dominated Democratic party regained power throughout the state, blacks in Wilmington not only lost their civil rights, but also were victims of a terrible massacre staged by angry white mobs.

Moses Mendelssohn, a Jewish Link to Germany

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In this video from The Story of the Jews, Simon Schama takes us to Berlin, Germany, where the young Talmudic scholar Moses Mendelssohn arrived in 1743 at the tender age of 14. At the time, Berlin was still quite antisemitic, but Mendelssohn forged an unlikely friendship with several early Enlightenment philosophers. He quickly learned English, German, Greek, and Latin, and became well-respected for his philosophical writings in German. One of his best-known accomplishments is the translation of sections of the Torah from Hebrew into German – the first time this had been accomplished by a Jew.

The Crisis: A Weapon Against Jim Crow

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This video describes W.E.B. Du Bois' role as editor of the NAACP journal The Crisis. Under Du Bois' leadership The Crisis began a crusade against atrocities perpetrated upon African Americans. With impassioned articles, readership grew to over 100,000 subscribers. After securing President Wilson’s support for desegregation in federal hiring, Du Bois was disappointed when Wilson instead gave his consent to Southern cabinet members to segregate their departments.

The Testimony

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In this video from Women War & Peace, female witnesses bravely share the horrors they experienced during the war. According to the women, they were imprisoned in buildings in their town and raped repeatedly by Serb soldiers, and they share chilling tales of the violence they experienced. One of the defendants also takes the stand and claims the whole situation was a misunderstanding. However, through a series of careful questions, prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff is able to unravel his claims.

Plessy vs. Ferguson

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A mere thirty-five years after slavery ended, a sophisticated and strategic group of African Americans challenged the Jim Crow Separate Car Act in the state of Louisiana by placing a fair-skinned Creole black man named Homer Plessy on the “whites only” railcar. This video presents how the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson helped legalize segregation and sent a message that the federal government favored states' rights in all matters of fairness and equality.

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