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Throughline

Author: NPR

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The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.
113 Episodes
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Bayard Rustin, the man behind the March on Washington, was one of the most consequential architects of the civil rights movement you may never have heard of. Rustin imagined how nonviolent civil resistance could be used to dismantle segregation in the United States. He organized around the idea for years and eventually introduced it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But his identity as a gay man made him a target, obscured his rightful status and made him feel forced to choose, again and again, which aspect of his identity was most important.
Octavia Butler's alternate realities and 'speculative fiction' reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warnings is her message of hope - a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perished in her books, came a story of rebuilding, of repair.
Decades before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey attracted millions with a simple, uncompromising message: Black people deserved nothing less than everything, and if that couldn't happen in the United States, they should return to Africa. This week, the seismic influence and complicated legacy of Marcus Garvey.
Why does Whitney Houston's 1991 Super Bowl national anthem still resonate 30 years later? Listen to this episode from our friends at It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders where they chat with author and Black Girl Songbook host Danyel Smith about that moment of Black history and what it says about race, patriotism and pop culture.
What happens after everything falls apart? The end of the Bronze Age was a moment when an entire network of ancient civilizations collapsed, leaving behind only clues to what happened. Today, scholars have pieced together a story where everything from climate change to mass migration to natural disasters played a role. What the end of the Bronze Age can teach us about avoiding catastrophe and what comes after collapse.
Russian-born journalist Masha Gessen talks to us about how the rule of the people becomes the rule of the one, the role of the media, and what we can learn about the building blocks of autocracy from the work of philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, and what history tells us are the ways to dismantle it.
When a mob of pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, they also incited a defining moment in United States history. Now what? Historian Timothy Snyder talks to us about how we got here and what an insurrection could mean for the future of America.
Impeachment

Impeachment

2021-01-1419:4210

When Andrew Johnson became president in 1865, the United States was in the midst of one of its most volatile chapters. The country was divided after fighting a bloody civil war and had just experienced the first presidential assassination. We look at how these factors led to the first presidential impeachment in American history.
In the mid-1980's a woman who didn't consider herself a feminist was asked to solve perhaps the biggest problem women face. How she and a small group of people seized on that rare moment and fought back in the hopes that something could finally be done.
The Sunni-Shia divide is a conflict that most people have heard about - two sects with Sunni Islam being in the majority and Shia Islam the minority. Exactly how did this conflict originate and when? We go through 1400 years of history to find the moment this divide first turned deadly and how it has evolved since.
50 years ago the world watched as man first landed on the moon, an incredible accomplishment by the engineers and scientists of NASA. But what if some of those same engineers and scientists had a secret history that the U.S. government tried to hide? This week, the story of how the U.S. space program was made possible by former Nazis.
The US and Iran have been in some state of conflict for the last 40 years, since the Iranian revolution. This week, we look at three key moments in this conflict to better understand where it might go next.
Supreme

Supreme

2020-12-1001:02:4113

When, why, and how did the Supreme Court get the final say in the law of the land? The question of the Court's role, and whether its decisions should reign above all the other branches of government, has been hotly debated for centuries. And that's resulted in a Supreme Court more powerful than anything the Founding Fathers could have imagined possible.
It has been nearly twenty years since 9/11 and during that time much of the media coverage and government attention has been directed at the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. Yet, during that time, it has been domestic terrorism from armed, mostly white American men, that has posed the biggest threat. This week, the rise of the modern white power movement.
The Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl

2020-11-2635:544

The story of how the Endangered Species Act went from unanimous passage under a Republican president to becoming a deeply partisan wedge. The act was passed to protect big, beloved animals like bald eagles and blue whales; no one thought it would apply to a motley, reclusive owl. In this episode from Oregon Public Broadcasting's Timber Wars, a story about saving the last of America's old growth forests and the push to roll back environmental protections.
The Invention of Race

The Invention of Race

2020-11-1943:0514

The idea that race is a social construct comes from the pioneering work of anthropologist Franz Boas. During a time when race-based science and the eugenics movement were becoming mainstream, anthropologist Franz Boas actively sought to prove that race was a social construct, not a biological fact.
This week we're bringing you something extra, an episode from the NPR Music series, Louder Than A Riot. The series examines the relationship between hip hop and mass incarceration and you can find the rest of the series here.
The Constitution is like America's secular bible, our sacred founding document. In her play, What the Constitution Means to Me, Heidi Schreck goes through a process of discovering what the document is really about – who wrote it, who it was for, who it protected and who it didn't. Through Heidi's personal story, we learn how the Constitution and how it has been interpreted have affected not just her family but generations of Americans.
In the 2000 presidential election, results weren't known in one night, a week, or even a month. This week, we share an episode we loved from It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders that revisits one of the most turbulent elections in U.S. history and what it could teach us as we wait for this election's outcome.
The Most Sacred Right

The Most Sacred Right

2020-10-2901:05:497

Frederick Douglass dreamed of a country where all people could vote and he did everything in his power to make that dream a reality. In the face of slavery, the Civil War and the violence of Jim Crow, he fought his entire life for what he believed was a sacred, natural right that should be available to all people - voting.
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Comments (228)

Alex Mercedes

most knowledgeable sources now say the "frog in the slow boiling pot" analogy is untrue.... Just sayin'...

Feb 25th
Reply

mari arana

Their tongues were falling out?!! WTF?!!

Feb 14th
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Olubunmi Olajide

really enjoyed this episode, extremely captivating and the famine sounds similar to the story of Joseph in the bible and the timelines line up so well

Feb 10th
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Kam Johnson

Can't believe it's been 30 years. one of the greatest version of the National Anthems I've ever heard. I bought the single when it was released.

Feb 7th
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Alex Mercedes

I cringe when I hear NPR --- and it's various projects -- tell me what I need. "When you start your day, you need to know what's happening and how to make sense of it." NPR doesn't know what I need. Beyond that, the times we are living in are not sensible. I was on a Zoom call yesterday and heard four different opinions/versions of what's going on. I get a lot from many of the stories I find through NPR, even if the world still looks chaotic, it's still great to be informed and equipped with the facts.

Jan 30th
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W. Jordan Robson

TS: "We shouldn't have media hate campaigns." Finally, some common ground! Now how about giving conservatives a fair shake in the media instead of just writing them off as backward racists? Or are you only concerned about hate in one direction?

Jan 27th
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W. Jordan Robson

TS: "Conservatives need to ask themselves, 'Should I be telling the same lies that [conservative leaders are] telling?'" So all conservatives do is lie? Tell me more about how you think we should be listening to the opinions of others.

Jan 27th
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W. Jordan Robson

TS: "It's unfortunate that these days, people are unwilling to listen to differing opinions. They think, 'You're either with me or against me.'" Also TS: "If you voted for Trump, you're an idiot who believed a 'big lie' and caused the Capitol riots." You tell me - is he interested in listening to differing opinions?

Jan 27th
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W. Jordan Robson

TS: "Journalists ought to be more willing to jump to conclusions about causality instead of investigating events carefully."

Jan 27th
Reply

W. Jordan Robson

Timothy Snyder: "If you voted for Trump, you're responsible for the violence at the Capitol." Ridiculous.

Jan 27th
Reply

Mark Iris

Wow. This was profound. Thank you.

Jan 24th
Reply

ABR

Darby was Anglo-Irish, NOT Irish. That's a crucial distinction, given the social/political/economic landscape of Ireland at the time.

Jan 12th
Reply

William Densmore

Brag about people liking Throughline for 5 minutes, then play a repeat. Skip.

Dec 29th
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Chanaka Hettige

This was intriguing!

Dec 22nd
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Chanaka Hettige

The shaking voice of the guest is very hard to listen to 😔

Dec 5th
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Mike Lukas

Great episode but calling the far-right “activists “ is a little misleading. They’re pretty obviously terrorists.

Dec 3rd
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Brian Knowles

The bias in this show is incredibly palpable. I used to think NPR was non-partisan, and it didn't embellish, or ignore incredibly important aspects of a story. your Constitution episode? there is so much nuance that is lost in your representation, that you have created a completely different narrative from reality.

Dec 2nd
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John Buckner

I love Throughline -- easily my favorite podcast. But the most recent, The Invention of Race -- is seriously flawed, due largely to the incomplete, poorly researched book presented by the Georgetown "scholar." He should stay in his lane because history, particularly Chinese and Japanese history, was ignored, either deliberately to support his incomplete and inaccurate thesis, or because he's blissfully unaware.

Nov 19th
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Chanaka Hettige

Is this the turning point of the Muslim world and the ideology to what we see today? Intriguing epsiode about something I never even heard of.

Nov 16th
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Chanaka Hettige

YES! I always look forward to her laughter. We all gonna miss her. 😔 Best if luck!

Nov 13th
Reply
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