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Politics & Society

Happy 2008!

Happy New YEAR! We're back.

Actually, we never left. We were here all along, but some of you did not get to hear our magnificent offerings because — for reasons that escape me — a number of the NPR member stations preempt our programming, even when it's original, to put on other stuff during holidays.

Who knew? I sure didn't. A sign I'm still new, I guess.

But please, if you didn't get to hear some of the holiday programs, do check them out online, or on your MP3 player, if you have one. (I don't. I am not a technophile; the last new gadget I mastered was my breast pump. ... Sorry, that's another story.)

Other TMM ducklings are all heading back to the nest from their adventures. One of our producers is in Peru (and I do hope he brought me a present), somebody else went skiing. A lot of folks nipped out to spend time with family. I was here.

...And what would the holidays be without a trip to the emergency room with a sick kid, I ask you? Now that is quality time! (Everybody's fine now, thanks.)

But we're ready for action. We're talking politics. We're excited about Iowa, but we're very disturbed about what we see coming out of Kenya in the aftermath of presidential and parliamentary elections there. We gave you a preview when the voting began last week, but I don't think anybody anticipated this. We hope to have more for you tomorrow.

And, a bicentennial you may not have heard much about: On January 1, 1808, Congress outlawed the importation of slaves to the U.S.

Did this end slavery? Not by any means.

Even though we are a news program, we feel that history offers us important lessons for the present and the future. And I am fascinated by what I call the hidden history that scholars take for granted, but that the rest of us don't know. We have a bit of that history today. We have all heard about the Underground Railroad. But did you know about the "watermen"? They were whites and blacks who ferried messages and helped enslaved Americans escape to freedom. Well, now you will.

I got excited about telling these stories when I attended a conference last fall at Pace University. (A former colleague of mine asked me to sit on a panel. I wasn't that busy, so I said yes.) My head was spinning from the stories that so many of the scholars there all knew, about people and events I'd never heard of. I decided then and there that if the opportunity arose, I'd do my best to bring this new scholarship to life. And when I say new, it has to be said; it's been there all along. The stories are like stones from the river, waiting to be picked up...

Happy New Year. I hope your new year will be everything you desire.

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