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July 9, 2020

Years of ‘In Black America’ Radio Series Digitized, Made Public

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Hundreds of episodes of “In Black America,” the Austin-produced nationally syndicated public radio series, have now been preserved, digitized and made freely available.

Some 745 episodes of the noted public affairs show have been digitized, thanks to a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Produced by NPR affiliate KUT, “In Black America” started in 1970 and is still broadcast weekly. The $29,997 grant was awarded to KUT in collaboration with WGBH and the Library of Congress.

Specifically at risk were 710 quarter-inch audio tape reels which were deteriorating and technologically obsolete. The episodes are from 1981-2004 and feature interviews conducted by John L. Hanson, Jr. who has hosted and produced “In Black America” since 1980.

Covering a breathtaking swath of the African American experience — education, style, economics, social issues, sports, families, culture, literature, science and politics — “In Black America” has featured interviews with luminaries including writer and photographer Gordon Parks, Sr.; dance pioneer and choreographer Alvin Ailey; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; architect John S. Chase, the first black architect licensed in Texas; poet Nikki Giovanni; and author Maya Angelou.



Just in recent months, Hanson has interviewed, among others, Claudette A. Robinson, a founding member of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the Honorable Andrew Young, Civil Rights leader, former U.N. Ambassador, Congressman, and Mayor of Atlanta.

Public access to the newly digitized episodes is most easily available — and easily searchable — through the online reading room of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting: americanarchive.org/special_collections/kut-in-black-america

KUT has also added the newly digitized material to its larger archival repository and the material will be available at UT’s Briscoe Center for American History.

Recent episode of “In Black America” are podcast on Apple Podcasts: podcasts.apple.com/podcast/id860053842?


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