American as Apple Pie (1940–1955)

How Segregation and Terror Lost


African Americans won Equality Under the Law only after long struggles turned the weight of public opinion and federal policy against the white terror that enforced segregation and subordination of minorities in the United States.

This program illuminates the mid-century battle for American hearts and minds with sounds and recollections by such remarkable participants as A. Philip Randolph and Stetson Kennedy, as well as the better-known contributions of Thurgood Marshall and Paul Robeson.

badgeIn 1941 Randolph, head of the all-black Pullman Porters union, effectively pressured President Roosevelt to back fair employment practices nationwide by threatening a wartime March on Washington. His similar tactics later forced President Truman to order desegregation of the Army and the federal government.

When white resistance threatened a replay of the bloody “Red Summer” of 1919, journalist, investigator, and labor activist Kennedy, recalls broadcasting the Klan’s secret passwords on the Superman radio show, and wearing Klan robes into the U.S. capitol to embarrass the Committee on Un-American Activities.

American as Apple Pie: How Segregation and Terror Lost, 1940–54 explores how, despite ongoing white resistance, activists—both famous and obscure—blazed the path to change. The Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision announced the end of America’s legally separate and unequal society—and the beginning of a new, and better known phase of the struggle for equal rights and participation in U.S. society.

Brown vs. Board of Education Attorneys on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court

Hegemony and Coercion

Producer, Writer, Director: Alan Lipke for Listening Between the Lines

Script Editor: Jude Thilman of Creative Change Productions

Mixing Engineer: Robin Wise

Additional recording by Jim Beckwith of Common Touch Music, FM stations WUNC, WOUB, KPLU; and Cabell Smith and Duke University

Archival sound recordings kindly provided by Tony Schwartz; Living Atlanta; The Southern Regional Council; and the oral history programs of: Tougaloo University; Duke University; The University of Southern Mississippi; The Schomburg Center; and Columbia University; by Quest Productions and The Rise and Fall Of Jim Crow; Dante James, WETA and A Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom; and the University of Florida’s Documentary Institute and Freedom Never Dies: The Harry T. Moore Story; and the Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman Libraries.

Historic Music provided by: Anna Chairetakis, Mathew Barton and the Alan Lomax Archives, Ray Charles, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Duke Ellington, John Lee Hooker, Count Basie, Eubie Blake, Pete Seeger, and Henry Butler; Phil Oldham, Woodie Guthrie, Jimmie Dorsey, Big Charlie Butler, Son House, Jim Young and Others; Original Music: Sarasota Slim, Billy Carr and Andy Irvine and Devon Rice.

Additional thanks to Jim Corbley, Ben Green, John Streater, Carolyn MacWithey, Antonia Fraser, Larry Martin; Mark McCrary and the Madison County (Mississippi) Cultural Center, and WMNF Community Radio 88.5 FM in Tampa.

Funded by the Florida and Mississippi Humanities Councils, affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the sweat and tears of many. Support for this program also comes from this station, and Public Radio International stations nationwide, and is made possible in part by the PRI Program Fund, whose contributors include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.