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.
Throughline
NPR/NPR

Throughline

From NPR

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.

Most Recent Episodes

Joelle Avelino NPR hide caption

toggle caption
NPR

Remembering Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the March on Washington

Bayard Rustin, the man behind the March on Washington, was one of the most consequential architects of the civil rights movement you may never have heard of. Rustin imagined how nonviolent civil resistance could be used to dismantle segregation in the United States. He organized around the idea for years and eventually introduced it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But his identity as a gay man made him a target, obscured his rightful status and made him feel forced to choose, again and again, which aspect of his identity was most important.

Remembering Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the March on Washington

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/970292302/971237766" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Joelle Avelino

How Octavia Butler's Sci-Fi Dystopia Became A Constant In A Man's Evolution

Octavia Butler's alternate realities and 'speculative fiction' reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warnings is her message of hope - a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perished in her books, came a story of rebuilding, of repair.

How Octavia Butler's Sci-Fi Dystopia Became A Constant In A Man's Evolution

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/968498810/968913461" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Joelle Avelino

'Black Moses' Lives On: How Marcus Garvey's Vision Still Resonates

Decades before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey attracted millions with a simple, uncompromising message: Black people deserved nothing less than everything, and if that couldn't happen in the United States, they should return to Africa. This week, the seismic influence and complicated legacy of Marcus Garvey.

'Black Moses' Lives On: How Marcus Garvey's Vision Still Resonates

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/965503687/967377928" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Singer and actress Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem at the 1991 Tampa, Florida, Superbowl XXV. Houston's rendition of the National Anthem was particularly inspiring due to the fact that Superbowl XXV (25) was held as the first Gulf War began. George Rose/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
George Rose/Getty Images

The Lasting Power Of Whitney Houston's National Anthem

Why does Whitney Houston's 1991 Super Bowl national anthem still resonate 30 years later? Listen to this episode from our friends at It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders where they chat with author and Black Girl Songbook host Danyel Smith about that moment of Black history and what it says about race, patriotism and pop culture.

The Lasting Power Of Whitney Houston's National Anthem

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/964625711/964661084" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Course of Empire (1836) by Thomas Cole. VCG Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
VCG Wilson/Getty Images

What Happened After Civilization Collapsed

What happens after everything falls apart? The end of the Bronze Age was a moment when an entire network of ancient civilizations collapsed, leaving behind only clues to what happened. Today, scholars have pieced together a story where everything from climate change to mass migration to natural disasters played a role. What the end of the Bronze Age can teach us about avoiding catastrophe and what comes after collapse.

What Happened After Civilization Collapsed

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/955735429/963859885" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Former President Donal Trump speaks from a Jumbotron screen as crowds gather for the "Stop the Steal" rally just before a mob descended on the Capitol. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Anatomy Of Autocracy: Masha Gessen

Russian-born journalist Masha Gessen talks to us about how the rule of the people becomes the rule of the one, the role of the media, and what we can learn about the building blocks of autocracy from the work of philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, and what history tells us are the ways to dismantle it.

The Anatomy Of Autocracy: Masha Gessen

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/960766489/961404500" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Police clash with supporters of US President Donald Trump who breached security and entered the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Anatomy of Autocracy: Timothy Snyder

When a mob of pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, they also incited a defining moment in United States history. Now what? Historian Timothy Snyder talks to us about how we got here and what an insurrection could mean for the future of America.

The Anatomy of Autocracy: Timothy Snyder

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/958828047/959027407" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in the Senate on March 13, 1868. The House approved 11 articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson. After a 74-day Senate trial, the Senate acquitted Johnson on three of the articles by a one-vote margin each and decided not to vote on the remaining articles. Library of Congress/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Library of Congress/Getty Images

Impeachment

When Andrew Johnson became president in 1865, the United States was in the midst of one of its most volatile chapters. The country was divided after fighting a bloody civil war and had just experienced the first presidential assassination. We look at how these factors led to the first presidential impeachment in American history.

Impeachment

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/956405668/956641545" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A young girl stands with supporters of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Against Women as they hold a rally for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) outside the US Capitol on June 26, 2012. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Outside/In: Everybody Knows Somebody

In the mid-1980's a woman who didn't consider herself a feminist was asked to solve perhaps the biggest problem women face. How she and a small group of people seized on that rare moment and fought back in the hopes that something could finally be done.

Outside/In: Everybody Knows Somebody

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/943938352/954510066" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Fahmida Azim for NPR

Outside/In: War of the Worlds

The Sunni-Shia divide is a conflict that most people have heard about - two sects with Sunni Islam being in the majority and Shia Islam the minority. Exactly how did this conflict originate and when? We go through 1400 years of history to find the moment this divide first turned deadly and how it has evolved since.

Outside/In: War of the Worlds

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/943938323/949225446" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top
or search npr.org