Throughline The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

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Throughline
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Throughline

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The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access to our sponsor-free feed of the show. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline

Most Recent Episodes

The Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game from Hasbro is displayed at Toy Fair in New York, in 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption

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Mark Lennihan/AP

Do Not Pass Go

There's more to Monopoly than you might think. It's one of the best-selling board games in history — despite huge economic instability, sales actually went up during the pandemic — and it's been an iconic part of American life at other pivotal moments: a cheap pastime during the Great Depression; a reminder of home for soldiers during WWII; and an American export during its rise as a global superpower. It endured even as it reflected some of the ongoing inequities in American society, from segregation and redlining to capitalism run rampant. That's because Monopoly is also built on powerful American lore – the idea that anyone, with just a little bit of cash, can rise from rags to riches.Writer Mary Pilon, the author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, describes Monopoly as "the Great American Dream in a board game – or, nightmare."

Do Not Pass Go

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Angela Hsieh

The Evangelical Vote (2019)

When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the door opened on one of those rare opportunities to tip the balance of the highest court in the U.S. It was the opportunity that one particular voting bloc had been waiting for: evangelical Christians. Now, we await a ruling in a case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade – an outcome evangelical Christians have spent decades voting and lobbying for. So how did this religious group become such a powerful force in U.S. politics? In this episode, we examine how white evangelicalism in particular became linked to conservative political issues...beginning with a roaming Irish pastor in the 1800s.

The Evangelical Vote (2019)

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Opponents of abortion rights parade past the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. Marcy Nighswander/AP hide caption

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Marcy Nighswander/AP

After Roe: A New Battlefield

The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade transformed the landscape of abortion rights overnight. For the doctors, lawyers, feminists, and others who had fought for nationwide legalization, Roe was the end of a long battle. But for the growing movement against abortion rights, it was the beginning of a new battle: to protect the fetus, challenge abortion providers, and ultimately overturn Roe. This is the story of how opponents of abortion rights banded together, built power, and launched one of the most successful grassroots campaigns of the past century.

After Roe: A New Battlefield

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Painted portrait of Wong Kim Ark in the AAPI Community Heroes Mural, located in San Francisco's Chinatown. Julie Caine/AAPI Community Heroes Mural, San Francisco Chinatown, 2022 hide caption

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Julie Caine/AAPI Community Heroes Mural, San Francisco Chinatown, 2022

By Accident of Birth

In August of 1895, a ship called the SS Coptic approached the coast of Northern California. On that boat was a passenger from San Francisco, a young man named Wong Kim Ark who was returning home after visiting his wife and child in China. He'd taken trips like this before, and expected to come back to the city he was born in, to his life and friends. But when the ship docked, officials told him he couldn't get off. The customs agent barred him according to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which denied citizenship to Chinese immigrants. Though Wong Kim Ark had been born in the U.S. and lived his whole life there, the agent said he was not a citizen.

By Accident of Birth

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Connie Jin

The Modern White Power Movement (2020)

The recent shooting in Buffalo, New York, which authorities are investigating as a hate crime, has yet again highlighted the threat posed by domestic terrorism in the U.S. At the center are violent extremists – the most lethal and persistent of whom are white supremacists and anti-government militias. They're part of a deeply interconnected movement which, since the 1980s, has pursued a mission to topple the U.S government with guerrilla warfare. Today, this movement is made up of highly-organized groups with paramilitary capabilities, but it hasn't always been this way. This week, we trace the rise of the modern white power movement.

The Modern White Power Movement (2020)

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Two craftsmen printing a book in kanji, the Chinese logographic system, circa 1800. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Characters That Built China

Today, China is a global superpower. But less than two hundred years ago, the nation was in a state of decline. After what became known as the 'century of humiliation' at the hands of Western imperialist powers, its very survival was in question. A movement arose to fight off foreign interference and preserve Chinese culture in the face of intense pressure from a rapidly-changing world. And the key to that movement was language.

The Characters That Built China

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A depiction of the first ovariotomy, which was performed in 1809. Library of Congress hide caption

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Library of Congress

Before Roe: The Physicians' Crusade

Abortion wasn't always controversial. In fact, in colonial America it would have been considered a fairly common practice: a private decision made by women, and aided mostly by midwives. But in the mid-1800s, a small group of physicians set out to change that. Obstetrics was a new field, and they wanted it to be their domain—meaning, the domain of men and medicine. Led by a zealous young doctor named Horatio Storer, they launched a campaign to make abortion illegal in every state, spreading a potent cloud of moral righteousness and racial panic that one historian later called "the physicians' crusade." And so began the century of criminalization.

Before Roe: The Physicians' Crusade

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Getty Images

Bonus: The Forgotten Mothers of Civil Rights History

MLK Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin are household names, but what about their mothers? This hour, author Anna Malaika Tubbs explores how these three women shaped American history.

Bonus: The Forgotten Mothers of Civil Rights History

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The Preamble to the US Constitution. Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty hide caption

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Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty

The Shadows of the Constitution (2020)

The Constitution is like America's secular Bible, our sacred founding document. As the Supreme Court debates the future of Roe v. Wade, many of us are looking more closely at the Constitution, trying to discern how it protects us. In her play, "What the Constitution Means to Me," Heidi Schreck goes through her own process of discovering what the Constitution is really about: who wrote it, who it was for, who it protected and who it didn't. Through Heidi's personal story, we learn how both the document itself and the way it's been interpreted have affected generations of Americans — and how those effects are far from ended.

The Shadows of the Constitution (2020)

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Brothers Ricardo Flores Magón and Enrique Flores Magón at Los Angeles Federal Court after being arrested on federal charges for their political activities. UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections hide caption

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UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections

Cinco de Mayo and the Rise of Modern Mexico

Does history have a border? That is the question at the heart of Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, a holiday that symbolizes Mexico's fight for autonomy, even as it's come to be associated with sales and cervezas and margaritas in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo is part of a much deeper story of two nations — Mexico and the U.S. — trying to define themselves at a time when old empires were crumbling and borders were in flux. A story that culminated in a revolution in Mexico that was at the forefront of a worldwide movement against predatory capitalism and foreign domination. So in this episode, we're going back to the first Cinco de Mayo and exploring how it helped shape the future on both sides of the border.

Cinco de Mayo and the Rise of Modern Mexico

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