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Popular Culture, History, and Current Events

A New National Holiday – A Riddle

By Maria Moss

By all rights, I should be a national holiday in the United States.

I am not as politically incorrect as Columbus Day which Native Americans are not really crazy about (who can blame them?);

I’m not as solemn as Veterans Day, which is more a day of remembrance for those who served in the wars than a day of celebration;

I’m not as general as Presidents’ Day that was originally supposed to only commemorate George Washington’s birthday but now has become the generic holiday for all U.S. presidents;

and I’m certainly not as cruel to the unsuspecting turkey as Thanksgiving Day is (although the tons of food that are consumed on my special day are certainly not vegetarian either).

Despite all of these discouraging facts, I feel hopeful since the people who like and endorse me will soon be in the majority – at least in California. And we all know what happens once it has happened in California, right?

Curious? Read more.

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White Robes, Silver Screens: An Interview with Tom Rice

By Maria Moss

Tom Rice is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews and the author of White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making of the Ku Klux Klan (2015). In this book, he examines the integral role of cinema in the formation, development, and demise of the Ku Klux Klan between 1915 and 1944. Through a range of sources – including Klan newspapers, censorship files, and personal papers – the book explores the ways in which the Klan used, produced, and protested against the film industry in order to recruit members, generate publicity, and define itself as a traditional Protestant American organization.

The following interview took place in December 2016 (note the Advent wreath).

 

Tune in next week for part 2!

 

Don Don’t Take No Mess: Don Cornelius and His Very Own Soul Train Mission

By Sophie Schleimer

 

Photo credit: Daniel X. O’Neil Soul Train Photo Exhibition at Expo 72: Don Cornelius

Brown:        Brother, who’s backin’ you                       on this?

Cornelius:   James, it’s just me.

Brown:        Brother, who’re you with on                     this?

Cornelius:   James, it’s just me.

Brown:        Brother, who’s really behind                     this?

Cornelius:   James, it’s just me.

 

August 1970, late afternoon: Something legendary is unfolding right before the eyes of just about every black household in Chicago: “This is Soul Train, the hippest trip in America, 60 non-stop minutes over the tracks of your mind into the exciting world of Soul!” is heard for the very first time on local television. The show’s owner, producer, and hippest host in history, Mr. Don Cornelius, steps on stage and starts a new era in African American history. He has no idea his train is heading for television heaven.

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Voting Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

By Sabrina Völz

Photo credit: Theresa Thompson

After yet another election season with a number of glitches, the problems with America’s voting system have been all over the news once again. Will the fuss die down after a few months like it has in past elections? Somehow I don’t think it will. In recent months, it has become increasingly evident that some of the same rights that were fought for and won during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s have come under fire. The movement, once considered a done deal, has recently gained new urgency.

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From Ronald to Donald: The Inaugural Speeches of Reagan and Trump

By Jan Gudlowski

By Ronald Reagan presidential campaign, 1980

“Make America Great Again.” Again. Despite what the media coverage lead us to fear, the world did not end with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. No candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign was as omnipresent in the public perception as Trump. It has been said that the speech Trump gave on January 20 did not foreshadow a good presidency; it was aggressive, simple, and populist. But is that really something new?

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