Seizing Freedom The story of the end of the Civil War you've probably been taught is that the slaves were freed by Northern white men (and maybe a handful of famous Underground Railroad conductors). What's missing? The story of how Black Americans risked their lives to fight for their own visions of what freedom could be—struggling for their dignity in the face of horrific violence. Seizing Freedom tells the stories of these unsung American heroes.
Seizing Freedom

Seizing Freedom

From VPM

The story of the end of the Civil War you've probably been taught is that the slaves were freed by Northern white men (and maybe a handful of famous Underground Railroad conductors). What's missing? The story of how Black Americans risked their lives to fight for their own visions of what freedom could be—struggling for their dignity in the face of horrific violence. Seizing Freedom tells the stories of these unsung American heroes.

Most Recent Episodes

Introducing Season 2 of Seizing Freedom

Coming February 1, 2022. The promises of Reconstruction were left unfulfilled. The violent system of Jim Crow was being built in real time, brick by brick. And Black people had vibrant debates about how to make a way out of no way; about the best strategy for life after emancipation and Reconstruction; to continue to achieve their ancestors' dreams. Voice actors will use letters, diaries, newspapers, and autobiographies to bring you stories from luminaries like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and W.E.B. DuBois, as well as everyday freedom fighters forging their own paths forward. Dr. Kidada Williams' interviews with artists, activists, thinkers and historians will bring the themes of these stories to the present day and give us visions for free Black futures. Seizing Freedom is a production of VPM and Molten Heart. For more info about the series, visit seizingfreedom.com.

Recommended Listening: 1865

While we work on the next season of Seizing Freedom, we think you'll enjoy listening to the podcast, 1865. In its new season, Ulysses S. Grant takes the White House, intent on rooting out corruption, crushing the KKK and bringing peace to a troubled nation. He has to contend with a divided people, a dysfunctional congress and a fractured Republican Party. While abolitionists across the country celebrated their hard-fought win in the fight toward equality, the steadily growing Ku Klux Klan threatened to undo all the progress that Reconstruction had made. Not to mention, the political world of Washington was in complete disarray. The second season of 1865 is available now on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

A Heritage Unique In The Ages

Season finale. The "freedom generation" of African Americans who were the first to experience emancipation knew that their fight for freedom was only just beginning. Even as they were earning new rights and privileges, they continued to face pushback that jeopardized all they had fought for and earned. Hear how they planned for the future, even as the present structures around them were being torn down. Support the show: http://donate.vpm.org/site/Donation2?1557.donation=form1&df_id=1557&mfc_pref=T

Interview: Kate Masur

A discussion of the central role African Americans played in securing constitutional change for their civil and political rights during Reconstruction, as well as the long-lasting impacts of their efforts in the first civil rights movement. Support the show: http://donate.vpm.org/site/Donation2?1557.donation=form1&df_id=1557&mfc_pref=T

The Final Word On Liberty

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, but African Americans knew the "freedom" of emancipation was incomplete without universal citizenship and rights protected by law. Learn how their insistence on having a full stake in American freedom helped transform federal policy and codify the rhetoric of "liberty" into law. Support the show: http://donate.vpm.org/site/Donation2?1557.donation=form1&df_id=1557&mfc_pref=T

Interview: Kelly Brown Douglas

The Reverend shares what church has meant to the Black community, both historically and currently, as well as how to find God in times of struggle and injustice. Support the show: http://donate.vpm.org/site/Donation2?1557.donation=form1&df_id=1557&mfc_pref=T

Equal Children Of God

How a thirst for soul liberty and the freedom to worship as they saw fit sustained Black Americans through centuries of enslavement. And how the sustenance they found in religious community emboldened them to fight for—and demand—concrete social and political change. Support the show: http://donate.vpm.org/site/Donation2?1557.donation=form1&df_id=1557&mfc_pref=T

Interview: Hilary Green

Conversation about family histories and education, how many of the stereotypes that have been associated with Black people in the United States came to be, why they're simply not true, and what the pursuit of knowledge meant and looked like to African Americans during and after Reconstruction. Support the show: https://www.pledgecart.org/pledgeCart3/?campaign=9D88F97A-621A-46C0-98FA-3BC3199AE799&source=#/home See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Truth Makes The Free Man

Education was regarded as the "real liberation" by many African Americans following emancipation from slavery, and they were willing to go to extreme lengths to secure literacy for themselves and their kin. Support the show: https://www.pledgecart.org/pledgeCart3/?campaign=9D88F97A-621A-46C0-98FA-3BC3199AE799&source=#/home See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Interview: Tera Hunter

Kidada speaks with Princeton Historian Tera Hunter about how Black workers wanted to shape their working lives after the Civil War, what communal labor looked like, and what activities they found joy in. Support the show: https://www.pledgecart.org/pledgeCart3/?campaign=9D88F97A-621A-46C0-98FA-3BC3199AE799&source=#/home See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.