Series Blog

Archive for April 2012

Olympic Solidarity and Controversy

In 1936 African American sprinter Jesse Owens amazed the world by breaking Olympic records and winning four gold medals in Berlin, the headquarters of Hitler's Nazi regime. However, in classic Olympic fashion, Owens became known not only for his athletic triumphs, but for his epic embrace with Aryan German competitor Luz Long and for the social barriers he broke down in the face of Hitler's Nazi regime. Rather than protesting "Hitler's Games," Owens used his position in the spotlight to display the greatness and compassion that can be achieved outside of the political and cultural constraints of society.

The Series Wins a Peabody

American Experience has been honored with a George Foster Peabody Award, widely considered the most prestigious award for electronic media. Three American Experience films were singled out to represent the series’ body of work: Triangle Fire, telling the story a deadly workplace accident that forever changed the industry of the American factory; Freedom Riders, recounting the bravery of black and white Americans who took a stand against racism in one of the Civil Rights Movement's first decisive victories; and Stonewall Uprising, documenting 1969 protests that marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around theworld. These three documentaries will be honored under the banner of American Experience as a series.

Is This Land Made for You and Me?

While hitchhiking across the United States in 1940, popular folk singer Woody Guthrie heard Irving Berlin's God Bless America on the radio repeatedly, which describes the "land that I love," complete with mountains, prairies and "oceans, white with foam." With traditional lyrics that tell Americans to "swear allegiance to a land that's free" and to "all be grateful for a land so fair", the patriotic song harshly juxtaposed the economic inequalities that Guthrie was witnessing in the aftermath of the Great Depression. In response, Guthrie wrote This Land is Your Land, claiming repeatedly "this land was made for you and me."