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New Podcasts Now Online. But first ...

Friday, July 15, 2016 - News of the terrorist attack in Nice, France yesterday delayed our posting of these programs out of respect for the victims of this horrific, senseless attack. These attacks, and the lawless nature of unrest across our country, are grim reminders of the evil that exists in our world and the disregard for human life that stems from bigotry and hatred. 

Now more than ever we need to continue the conversation, remain passionate and respectfully committed to preserving life across our social spectrum and insure the safety and well-being of all of our children. 

The study of history provides insight into our lives. It is in this spirit and in recognition of the importance of an on-going dialogue, that we are making our discussion about race relations in the 20th century available through this podcast today.

Our Conversations FTA podcast features a spirited and engaging 2013 conversation with Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones.  ET



author of

How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 2016)
Ethan Michaeli is an award-winning author, publisher and journalist based in Chicago. He was a copy editor and investigative reporter at The Defender from 1991 to 1996. Ethan joined us for the debut of Conversations with Ed Tracy at the Skokie Theatre on March 23rd to discuss his new book, The Defender.

ETHAN MICHAELI on the role of The Defender during the Great Migration:
“With the migration from the south, The Defender becomes an even more important way for people to keep in touch with the communities that they’d left behind. So you’d have people essentially writing to each other, kind of communicating the way we would today on social media through Facebook … as a way to tell people 'Hey I'm in the city … I have a job … I’m doing well …you should come too.' The Defender was directly responsible for doubling the African American community in Chicago during World War I from about 50,000 people to around 100,000.”
ETHAN MICHAELi on The Defender’s coverage of Emmett Till’s death and the graphic images that ran on the front page:
“Those images, those stark images, went around the country and landed like a bomb, everywhere. People frankly were somewhat inure to the news of lynching in the south, these kind of things happened fairly often and the reports were coming out on a regular basis. Earlier in the 20th century, white newspapers in the south had advertised lynching in the sense that they had said 'there will be a lynching on Tuesday night … this is where you should come' …  so it wasn’t that lynching was a covert operation. It had just changed into something that suddenly to the vast majority of Americans became unacceptable with the photos of Emmett Till … that really was a dramatic moment that started to see a real change in public opinion about that issue, about extrajudicial violence against African Americans.”

ETHAN MICHAELI on current race relations:
“I started the book with an assumption of progress. Yes, maybe things were moving along slowly but they’re moving along. By the time I finished the book, I wasn’t seeing progress. I was seeing change. I was seeing that things are possible today in the sense of an African American president that weren’t possible decades ago, but, at the same time, it was hard to escape that things had gotten so much worse for an entire class of people … Emmett Till maybe could not have become president, but the infrastructure was there so he could have become a successful business person, a scholar ….  Whereas LaQuan McDonald … we gave up on LaQuan a long time before he got to that corner where he was killed by the police. He never had a chance to really make much of himself, and we as a society didn’t provide him with that chance. That’s tragic.”




author of
Bigger, Better, Louder: 150 Years of Chicago Theater as seen by "Chicago Tribune" Critics
University of Chicago Press (October 4, 2013)

Chris Jones, chief theater critic and a Sunday culture columnist for the Chicago Tribune, joined the conversation at the Hubbard Inn on November 19, 2013 to discuss his new book. 

Also featured in this episode: a performance by World War II veteran Judy Brubaker, who played the role of Ms. Leach in the original Chicago cast of Grease in 1971.

CHRIS JONES on Claudia Cassidy and Richard Christiansen:
“The Tribune had two critics who held the job for most of the 20th century … one of them was Claudia Cassidy and one was Richard Christiansen. … They were very different critics. One was largely despised by the people she covered and one was largely beloved by the people he covered. One was known for vitriolic prose – horribly nasty prose in some cases, by today’s standards anyway – and one was known for a certain courtly gentlemanly understanding. And yet, both of them at their different periods of time, seemed to give this city what it really needed.”
Read more about Grease HERE
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