Say It Plain: A Century of African American Oratory

Saturday, February 27, 2010 9pm

Producer: American RadioWorks
Listen Again

When the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech is broadcast each February to mark Black History Month, the magnetic cadence of his words is almost impossible to resist.

Like black speakers before and after him, King testified to how America betrayed its founding ideals through slavery, segregation and racial bigotry. King and scores of other black orators sounded the charge against Jim Crow and stung the moral conscience of America. Many powered their messages with relentless optimism that one day change would come.

This documentary highlights a selection of landmark sermons, speeches and broadcasts by African American orators over the past century. From Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey, to Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X, to Shirley Chisholm and Julian Bond, you’ll hear the stirring words of African American figures as they call for action on civil rights and the unmet promise of democracy.