Interviews with people who were there at key moments in black and civil rights history
'I just wanted to be white'
In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, thousands of children were born to white German women and black American soldiers who were stationed in Allied-occupied Germany. The mixed-race infants were viewed with contempt by many Germans and endured constant abuse and racism. Black activist and author Ika Hügel-Marshall was one of the so-called "occupation babies". She tells Mike Lanchin about the painful struggle to discover her own identity as a result of the racism she experienced growing up black in post-war Germany.
Photo: Ika as a young girl (Courtesy of Ika Hügel-Marshall)
Nasa's pioneering black women
Usually it is the names of astronauts that people remember about the space race. But less celebrated are the teams of people working on how to put a rocket into orbit. only in recent years have stories come to light of the contributions of the black women involved.
Many were recruited as 'computers', meaning that they carried out complex mathematical calculations by hand, before machines were invented that could do the job. Christine Darden started her career in the computer pool, helping the engineers work out the trajectories needed to bring the Apollo Capsule back to Earth. Finally, she broke through the hidden barriers facing women at the time, gaining a promotion to engineer.
(Photo: Dr Christine Darden at a desk in Nasa's Langley Research Center, 1973. Credit: Bob Nye/Nasa/Getty Images)
The Battle of Lewisham
In August 1977, the racist National Front organisation planned to stage a march into Lewisham in South London at a time of high racial tension in the area. The National Front activists were met by a huge counter-demonstration organised by anti-racist campaigners – in the clashes that followed, hundreds of people were arrested and injured before the National Front were forced to withdraw. The so-called Battle of Lewisham is now seen as having halted the rise of the far-right in British politics. Nacheal Catnott talks to Lez Henry, who grew up in Lewisham and witnessed the unrest. Produced by Eleanor Biggs.
PHOTO: A police officer attempts to restore order in Lewisham in 1977 (Getty Images)
When Nelson Mandela went to Detroit
Just months after his release from prison in 1990 the South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela toured the USA. One of the eight cities he went to visit was Detroit. Benita Barden has been speaking to Reverend Wendell Anthony who was one of the people who welcomed him to the city.
Photo: Nelson Mandela and Rev Wendell Anthony in 1990. Courtesy of Rev Wendell Anthony.
The unlawful death of Christopher Alder
The black former soldier choked to death in handcuffs on the floor of a British police station in 1998. CCTV footage taken from the police station showed the 37 year-old father of two gasping for air as officers chatted and joked around him. It took 11 minutes for him to stop breathing. An inquest found he was unlawfully killed but no-one has been held accountable for his death. Farhana Haider speaks to Janet Alder about her long fight to get justice for her brother.
Photo:Christopher Alder an ex paratrooper who died in a police station in Hull on 1 April 1998. Credit Alder family hand out.
Three Strikes Law
One man's experience of the controversial US law that saw thousands locked up for life. Under the law in California, a third conviction for a felony offence would lead to a life sentence. At times in California, 45% of "three strikers" were African American. Many were sentenced to life in prison for non-violent or minor offences. Alex Last hears the story of Bilal Chatman, and his hopes for reform.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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