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

Puerto Rican nationalists Irvin Flores Rodriguez, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Lolita Lebron, and Andres Figueroa Cordero, standing in a police lineup following their arrest after a shooting attack on Capitol Hill, March 1, 1954. AP hide caption

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AP

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 and for much of the next fifty years Puerto Ricans fought fiercely about this status. Should they struggle for independence, or to be a U.S. state, or something in between? In this episode, we look at Puerto Rico's relationship with the mainland U.S. and the key figures who shaped the island's fate.

Puerto Rico

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Rapper Lil Nas X poses with the Song of the Year Award in the press room during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. Lil Nas X's song "Old Town Road" was initially removed from Billboard's Hot Country Songs list which sparked controversy among fans. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Three Chords And The Truth

When Lil Nas X released his viral hit "Old Town Road" last year, he sparked a conversation about what country music is and who is welcome in the genre. To better understand the deep and often misunderstood history of country music, we sat down with renowned filmmaker Ken Burns to talk about his new documentary series Country Music and his process as a storyteller.

Three Chords And The Truth

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A Keep America Beautiful ad that was made in partnership with the Ad Council. Library of Congress hide caption

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Library of Congress

The Litter Myth

There is more waste in the world today than at any time in history, and the responsibility for keeping the environment clean too often falls on individuals instead of manufacturers. But, why us? And why this feeling of responsibility? This week, how one organization changed the American public's relationship with waste and who is ultimately responsible for it.

The Litter Myth

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Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf bows his head in prayer during the singing of the national anthem before playing the Chicago Bulls on March 15, 1996. Abdul-Rauf was suspended for one game after refusing to stand for the national anthem, but reached a compromise with the NBA. ERIC CHU/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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ERIC CHU/AFP/Getty Images

On The Shoulders Of Giants

When Colin Kaepernick stopped standing for the national anthem at NFL games it sparked a nationwide conversation about patriotism and police brutality. And in the last few weeks that conversation was rekindled when the NFL announced a deal with Jay-Z that some thought moved attention away from Capernick's continued absence from the league. The discussion about the utility of athletes taking a stand is nothing new - Black athletes using their platform to protest injustice has long been a tradition in American history.

On The Shoulders Of Giants

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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

Strange Fruit

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

In a special collaboration with NPR Music's Turning the Tables Series, how "Strange Fruit" turned Billie Holiday into one of the first victims of the War on Drugs.

Strange Fruit

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Angela Hsieh

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.

Mass Incarceration

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Boer prisoners in a camp at Bloemfontein, 2nd Boer War, 1899-1902. Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images hide caption

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Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Scorched Earth

The term "concentration camp" is most associated with Nazi Germany and the systematic killing of Jews during World War II. But colonial powers used concentration camps at the turn of the 19th century to crush rebellions. In this episode, how a war between Britain and South African Boers gave rise to some of the first camps.

Scorched Earth

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Huey P. Long, U.S. Senator from Louisiana, speaking in Washington, DC. Library of Congress hide caption

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Library of Congress

Huey Long Vs. The Media

Huey Pierce Long: you either loved him, or hated him. He combined progressive economic ideas with an autocratic streak, earning him thousands of adoring fans and fearful enemies. Long went from traveling salesman to Louisiana governor, and then US senator, through his mastery of the media. Then once in power, he waged a war against it.

Huey Long Vs. The Media

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A policeman examines some of the ten school buses destroyed by fire and dynamite in late Aug. 30, 1971, just days before a court-ordered plan to desegregate schools in Pontiac, Michigan, by busing children went into effect. Five members of the Ku Klux Klan were later convicted of the bombing plot. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive hide caption

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Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Milliken v. Bradley

After the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, public schools across the country were supposed to become more integrated, but by the 1970s, many weren't. As a way to remedy segregation in their city, the Detroit school board introduced busing across Detroit. But the plan was met with so much resistance that the issue eventually led all the way to the Supreme Court.

This week, segregation in Detroit public schools and the impact of a Supreme Court case that went far beyond that city.

Milliken v. Bradley

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Thousands of Iranians chanting "Death to America," participate in a mass funeral for 76 people killed when the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, in Tehran, Iran, July 7, 1988. They hold aloft a drawing depicting the incident. 290 people were killed in the July 3, 1988 incident. Mohammad Sayyad/CP/AP hide caption

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Mohammad Sayyad/CP/AP

Rules of Engagement

After Iran shot down an American surveillance drone in June, tensions between the two countries have only gone up. But the US and Iran have been in some state of conflict for the last 40 years, since the Iranian revolution. This week, we look at three key moments in this conflict to better understand where it might go next.

Rules of Engagement

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