Listener Relates To Gayle Haggard, Obama Honors Civil Rights Music

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and the program’s multi-media producer Lee Hill check through listener feedback and offer updates to recent conversations heard on the program. This week, the audience weighs in on our recent conversation with Gayle Haggard about her book “Why I Stayed,’ which chronicles her decision to remain married to Ted Haggard, the evangelical leader who lost his mega-church ministry in Colorado after he admitted to having an affair with a male prostitute.. We also hear listeners’ thoughts about this week’s White House’s celebration of music from the civil rights movement.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now its time for Back Talk where we lift the curtain on whats happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners.

Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with us as usual. Hi, Lee.

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well our conversation with Gayle Haggard, wife of former evangelical leader Ted Haggard, was by far the most commented of our recent stories.

In 2006, the couple made national headlines when Ted Haggard admitted to hiring a gay male prostitute who claimed to have had a relationship with him for three years. Mrs. Haggard talked to us about why she stayed with her husband. And following that conversation, many people wrote to us with their own stories and perspectives. I caught up with blogger Juanita(ph) who says she could identify with Mrs. Haggard.

Ms. WANITA: I had a husband come out of the closet. We now are separated. Based on my and others experiences, people can suppress their sexuality for a long time, but it comes out eventually. I pray that the Haggards are among the few couples who succeed in same marriage.

MARTIN: Thank you, Juanita, and thanks to all who wrote in.

Now, to other news, earlier this week, the White House hosted an event called A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement.

HILL: And, Michel, a blizzard almost threatened to spoil the concert that included performances by Bob Dylan, Yolanda Adams and Smokey Robinson, just to name a few. But the show went on and here is a taste from that event.

(Soundbite of song, We Shall Overcome)

Ms. JOAN BAEZ (Actor): (Singing) We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday...

President BARACK OBAMA: And the civil rights Movement was a movement sustained by music. It was lifted by spirituals inspired by the Bible. It was sharpened by protest songs about wrongs that needed righting. It was broadened by folk artists like a New York-born daughter of immigrants, and a young storyteller from Minnesota, who captured the hardships and hopes of people who were worlds different from them in ways that only song can do.

It was a movement with a soundtrack, diverse strains of music that coalesced when the movement was right. But that soundtrack wasnt just inspired by the movement. It gave strength in return.

(Soundbite of song, Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around)

THE FREEDOM SINGERS: (Singing) Aint gonna let nobody, turn me around, turn me around, turn me around, aint gonna let nobody, turn me around...

Dr. BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON (Singer; Social Activist): (Singing) Nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around, aint gonna let nobody, turn me around...

THE FREEDOM SINGERS: (Singing) Turn me around, turn me around, turn me around, aint gonna let nobody, turn me around...

Dr. REAGON: Wait, I know this is a show, but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. REAGON: You have to actually sing the song.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

(Soundbite of song, Keep Your Eyes On The Prize)

Mr. JOHN MELLENCAMP (Singer): (Singing) Paul and Silas are bound in jail, had no money to go their bail, keep your eyes on the prize, hold on. Paul and Silas (unintelligible), keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

Pres. OBAMA: A fact not lost on the movements leaders. Its been said that when Dr. King and his associates were looking for communities to organize and mobilize, theyd know which were disciplined enough and serious enough when they saw folks singing freedom songs. Dr. King himself once acknowledged that he didnt see the real meaning of the movement until he saw young people singing in the face of hostility.

You see, its easy to sing when youre happy. Its easy to sing when youre among friends. Its easy to sing when times are good. But it is hard to sing when times are rough. Its hard to sing in the face of taunts, and fear, and the constant threat of violence. Its hard to sing when folks are being beaten, when leaders are being jailed, when churches are being bombed.

Its hard to sing in times like that. But times like that are precisely when the power of song is most potent. Above the din of hatred, amidst the deafening silence of inaction, the hymns of the civil rights movement helped carry the cause of the people and advance the ideals of a nation.

(Soundbite of song, People Get Ready)

Ms. JENNIFER HUDSON (Singer): (Singing) People get ready, theres a train coming, you dont need no baggage, you just get on board...

MARTIN: Youve been listening to Joan Baez singing We Shall Overcome, Bernice Johnson Reagon and the freedom singers performed Aint Gonna Let Nobody, Turn Me Around. John Mellencamp singing Keep Your Eyes On The Prize. And the montage ended with Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson singing People Get Ready.

Listeners can see pictures from the event at npr.org and hear the entire event tonight and throughout the month on many NPR stations and I will be hosting that NPR special. Lee?

HILL: And Michel, were asking people to share with us their favorite songs from the civil rights movement. They can log on to our blog by visiting npr.org, clicking on programs and then on TELL ME MORE. And there they will also find a link to a video from the concert.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thanks, Michel.

(Soundbite of song, People Get Ready)

Ms. HUDSON: (Singing) There ain't no room...

Mr. SMOKEY ROBINSON (Musician): (Singing) There aint no room...

Ms. HUDSON: (Singing) ...for the hopeless sinner.

Mr. ROBINSON: (Singing) Hopeless sinner.

Ms. HUDSON: (Singing) Who would hurt all mankind just to save his own.

Mr. ROBINSON: (Singing) Well, well, well.

MARTIN: Coming up, embattled New York Governor David Paterson says hes been, quote, racialized and sexualized, unquote, by recent political attacks. The Barbershop guys talk about this next on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Im Michel Martin.

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