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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.
130 Episodes
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Capitalism: What is it?

Capitalism: What is it?

2021-06-2459:194

What do we mean when we talk about capitalism? Our economic system might seem inevitable, but it's a construction project hundreds of years in the making and no part of it is natural or left to chance. This week, we kick off our series on the past, present and future of Capitalism with Kristen Ghodsee, Vivek Chibber, and Bryan Caplan, who debate how an economic system became an all-encompassing force that rules our lives and our minds.
Before Stonewall (2019)

Before Stonewall (2019)

2021-06-1743:163

In 1969, a gay bar in New York City called The Stonewall Inn was raided by police. It was a common form of harassment in those days but what followed, days of rebellion as patrons fought back, was anything but ordinary. Today, that event is seen as the start of the gay civil rights movement, but gay activists and organizations were standing up to harassment and discrimination years before. On this episode from our archives, the fight for gay rights before Stonewall.
Who is NPR (For)?

Who is NPR (For)?

2021-06-1039:024

Who is the media meant to serve? And why does it matter today, arguably, more than ever? 50 years ago, National Public Radio began as a small, scrappy news organization with big ideals and a very small footprint. Over the subsequent years of coverage and programming, NPR has grown and evolved into a mainstream media outlet, with a mission of serving audiences that reflect America. This week, Michel Martin, host of Weekend All Things Considered, talks to us about her time at NPR and the importance of representing all voices in news.
The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

2021-06-0301:01:095

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.
Palestine

Palestine

2021-05-2856:259

The recent violence that engulfed Gaza and Jerusalem began with an issue that's plagued the region for a century now: settlements. In East Jerusalem, Palestinian residents are facing forced removal by Israeli settler organizations. It's a pattern that has repeated over the history of this conflict. Historian Rashid Khalidi guides us through the history of settlements and displacement going back to the age of European colonialism.
A Symphony of Resistance

A Symphony of Resistance

2021-05-2058:589

The Arab Spring erupted ten years ago when a wave of "pro-democracy" protests spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The effects of the uprisings reverberated around the world as regimes fell in some countries, and civil war began in others. This week, we remember the years leading up to the Arab Spring, and its lasting impact on three people who lived through it.
Over one million Uyghur people have been detained in camps in China, according to estimates, subjected to torture, forced labor, religious restrictions, and even forced sterilization. The vast majority of this minority ethnic group is Muslim, living for centuries at a crossroads of culture and empire along what was once the Silk Road. This week, we explore who the Uyghur people are, their land, their customs, their music and why they've become the target of what many are calling a genocide.
Operation Nemesis

Operation Nemesis

2021-05-0653:5511

An estimated 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by the Ottoman government during World War I, in what came to be known as the Armenian Genocide. The perpetrators escaped Constantinople in the middle of the night and began new lives undercover in Europe. So, a small group of Armenian survivors decided to take justice into their own hands. In this episode from Kerning Cultures, the secretive operation to avenge the Armenian Genocide, and how it changed the idea of justice in the modern world. This story originally aired on Kerning Cultures, a podcast telling stories from across the Middle East and North Africa and the spaces in between.
James Baldwin's Shadow

James Baldwin's Shadow

2021-04-2946:398

James Baldwin believed that America has been lying to itself since its founding. He wrote, spoke, and thought incessantly about the societal issues that still exist today. As the United States continues to reckon with its history of systemic racism and police brutality, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. guides us through the meaning and purpose of James Baldwin's work and how his words can help us navigate the current moment.
Force of Nature

Force of Nature

2021-04-2252:436

Rivers on fire, acid rain falling from the sky, species going extinct, oil spills, polluted air, and undrinkable water. For so long, we didn't think of our planet as a place to preserve. And then in the 1960's and 70's that changed. Democrats and Republicans, with overwhelming public support, came together to pass a sweeping legislative agenda around environmental protection. In today's episode, what led to Earth Day, and what Earth Day led to.
The Real Black Panthers

The Real Black Panthers

2021-04-1559:1710

The Black Panther Party's battles for social justice and economic equality are the centerpiece of the Oscar-nominated film 'Judas and The Black Messiah.' In 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said the Black Panther Party "without question, represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country." And with that declaration he used United States federal law enforcement to wage war on the group, But why did Hoover's FBI target the Black Panther Party more severely than any other Black power organization? Historian Donna Murch says the answer lies in the Panthers' political agenda and a strategy that challenged the very foundations of American society.
Policing in America

Policing in America

2021-04-0801:09:0018

Black Americans being victimized and killed by the police is an epidemic. As the trial of Derek Chauvin plays out, it's a truth and a trauma many people in the US and around the world are again witnessing first hand. But this tension between African American communities and the police has existed for centuries. This week, the origins of policing in the United States and how those origins put violent control of Black Americans at the heart of the system.
Our Own People

Our Own People

2021-04-0154:2710

"Build bridges, not walls." Solidarity was at the heart of Yuri Kochiyama's work. A Japanese-American activist whose early political awakenings came while incarcerated in the concentration camps of World War II America, Kochiyama dedicated her life to social justice and liberation movements. As hate crimes against AAPI people surge in this country, we reflect on Yuri Kochiyama's ideas around the Asian American struggle, and what solidarity and intersectionality can mean for all struggles.
The Land of the Fee

The Land of the Fee

2021-03-2551:3714

Tipping is a norm in the U.S. But it hasn't always been this way. A legacy of slavery and racism, tipping took off in the post-Civil War era. The case against tipping had momentum in the early 1900's, yet what began as a movement to end an exploitative practice just ended up continuing it.
Chaos

Chaos

2021-03-1801:04:3910

What happens when teenagers are shipwrecked on a deserted island? Can you find the fingerprint of God in warzones? Why was the concept of zero so revolutionary for humanity? A year into a pandemic that has completely upended the lives of people around the world, we look at how we cope with chaos, how we're primed to make order out of randomness, and why the stories we're taught to believe about our propensities for self-destruction may not actually be true.
N95

N95

2021-03-1142:306

The N95 respirator has become one of the most coveted items in the world during the pandemic, especially by medical professionals. But how did this seemingly simple mask become the lifesaving tool it is today? From bird beaks to wrapping paper to bras, we follow the curious history of one of the most important defenses in our fight against COVID-19.
In this episode from WNYC's La Brega, Alana Casanova-Burgess traces back the story of the boom and bust of the Puerto Rican Levittown. For many Americans, Levittown is the prototypical suburb, founded on the idea of bringing Americans into a middle-class lifestyle after WWII. But while the NY Levittown was becoming a symbol of American prosperity, there was a parallel story of Levittown in Puerto Rico during a time of great change on the island. Casanova-Burgess (herself the granddaughter of an early PR Levittown resident) explores what the presence of a Levittown in Puerto Rico tells us about the promises of the American Dream. It's a story that reflects and reveals how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico.
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.
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Comments (242)

Anna Clay

Excellent episode. Bryan Caplan treats this stuff as a thought exercise with no regard for the human impact, and he's a condescending jerk.

Jun 24th
Reply

AJB

Way better explanation is in the autobiography of the son of the founder of Hamas ("Son of Hamas")

May 30th
Reply (2)

Alexis Moore

Does this presenter know what the letter 'T' is? Irritating listening

May 14th
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Lori Lavender Luz

For more on the China-Uyghur situation, check out this podcast that reveals evidence of organ harvesting on the Jordan Harbinger Show. https://castbox.fm/episode/497%3A-David-Kilgour-%7C-The-Heartless-Art-of-Forced-Organ-Harvesting-id1168806-id374820951?country=us

May 13th
Reply

Nomad Heart

So brilliant. Thank you. We listen, or we die.

Apr 29th
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Ariel Reynante

A really fascinating listen that I HIGHLY recommend to everyone (whether you're like me and knew almost nothing about the #BlackPanthers or if you're like my mother-in-law who already has strong opinions about them based on news stories from back in the 70's & 80's). #NPR @throughlinenpr #TIL #BLM #AllLivesMatter #BPP

Apr 25th
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Nicole Gerdes

it really annoys me when NPR is so obviously impartial.

Apr 14th
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Joshua Davis

I feel like @throughline has become the lens by which I view the world, this perspective is becoming my civictech DNA.

Apr 10th
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BillyG

This is mostly a reupload of their June 4th episode, but they added some references to the Chauvin trial

Apr 8th
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Pragadeesh Nagappan

clearly one of the best episodes from through line

Mar 24th
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Jodi Traver

Just gorgeous! I'm so glad I stumbled upon this episode!

Mar 15th
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dok dicer

halfway in and I'm still missing the (explicit) connection to today. Aside from the American empire's obvious anxiety about dangerous foreigners.

Mar 9th
Reply

mari arana

The You Vita island pronunciation of Uvita Island drove me crazy.

Mar 7th
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Alex Mercedes

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

Feb 25th
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mari arana

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

Feb 14th
Reply

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
Reply

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
Reply
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