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
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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.

Most Recent Episodes

Kaz Fantone

The Most Sacred Right

Frederick Douglass dreamed of a country where all people could vote and he did everything in his power to make that dream a reality. In the face of slavery, the Civil War and the violence of Jim Crow, he fought his entire life for what he believed was a sacred, natural right that should be available to all people - voting.

The Most Sacred Right

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Kaz Fantone

How We Vote

Drunken brawls, coercion, and lace curtains. Believe it or not, how regular people vote was not something the founding fathers thought much about, or planned for. Americans went from casting votes at drunken parties in the town square to private booths behind a drawn curtain. In this episode, the process of voting; how it was originally designed, who it was intended for, moments in our country's history when we reimagined it altogether, and what we're left with today.

How We Vote

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Kaz Fantone

The Electoral College

What is it, why do we have it, and why hasn't it changed? Born from a rushed, fraught, imperfect process, the origins and evolution of the Electoral College might surprise you and make you think differently about not only this upcoming presidential election, but our democracy as a whole.

The Electoral College

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(mis)Representative Democracy, a new series from Throughline. NPR hide caption

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NPR

(mis)Representative Democracy, A New Series From Throughline

America has never been a country of one person, one vote. And that's by design. Our system was built by a select few, for a select few. We were never all supposed to get a say.

(mis)Representative Democracy, A New Series From Throughline

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Portrait of Billie Holiday singing at the Downbeat club in New York City on February 1947. Library of Congress hide caption

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Library of Congress

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday helped shape American popular music with her voice and unique style. But, one song in particular has become her greatest legacy — "Strange Fruit." The song paints an unflinching picture of racial violence, and it was an unexpected hit. But singing it brought serious consequences.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

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Health care reform supporters participate in a sit-in inside the lobby of a building where Aetna insurance offices are located September 29, 2009 in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Everlasting Problem

Health insurance for millions of Americans is dependent on their jobs. But it's not like that everywhere. So, how did the U.S. end up with such a fragile system that leaves so many vulnerable or with no health insurance at all? On this episode, how a temporary solution created an everlasting problem.

The Everlasting Problem

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Angela Hsieh

The Evangelical Vote

With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the president is hoping to fill the seat with a more ideologically conservative justice. And evangelical Christians, who've become a powerful conservative voting bloc, have been waiting for this moment. But how and when did this religious group become so intertwined with today's political issues, especially abortion? In this episode, what it means to be an evangelical today and how that has changed over time.

The Evangelical Vote

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James Baldwin poses while at home in Saint Paul de Vence, France, September 1985. Ulf Andersen/Getty Images hide caption

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Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

James Baldwin's Fire

In a moment when America is undertaking an uncomfortable reckoning with its racial inequality and violence, we wanted to look back at someone who concentrated on race in America his entire life. Considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, James Baldwin wrote incessantly about the societal issues that still exist today.

James Baldwin's Fire

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A US Postal Service car in 1916. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty hide caption

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty

The Postal Service

The US Postal Service has played a role throughout American history - from the Declaration of Independence to today's mail-in voting. It was conceived of by the founders as the way to create a united, informed and effective American democracy. But today, the postal service's future is in danger. How the postal service created the United States and the case for this pivotal institution.

The Postal Service

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Incarcerated people looking out of small jail window. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

Reframing History: Mass Incarceration

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a disproportionate number of those prisoners are Black. What are the origins of the U.S. criminal justice system and how did racism shape it? From the creation of the first penitentiaries in the 1800s, to the "tough-on-crime" prosecutors of the 1990s, how America created a culture of mass incarceration.

Reframing History: Mass Incarceration

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