261 episodes

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Witness History: Archive 2011 BBC

    • History

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

    Ruby Bridges Attends an all-White School

    Ruby Bridges Attends an all-White School

    In November 1960, Ruby Bridges became one of the first black children in New Orleans to be educated at a white elementary school. It began the desegregation of the education system in the Southern States.



    She was just six years old, and she had to be accompanied to school by US Marshals.



    *** Listeners should be aware that some of the language in this programme reflects the historical context of the time. ***



    Image: Associated Press

    • 9 min
    Mixed race marriage victory in US

    Mixed race marriage victory in US

    In 1958, a mixed-race couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, were arrested and then banished from the US state of Virginia for breaking its laws against inter-racial marriage.

    Nine years later, Mildred and Richard Loving won a ruling at the Supreme Court declaring this sort of legislation unconstitutional.

    Witness speaks to the Lovings' lawyer, Bernie Cohen.

    Image: Mildred and Richard Loving, pictured in 1967 (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins

    Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins

    On 1 February 1960, four young black men began a protest in Greensboro, North Carolina against the racial segregation of shops and restaurants in the US southern states.



    The men, who became known as the Greensboro Four, asked to be served at a lunch counter in Woolworths. When they were refused service they stayed until closing time. And went back the next day, and the next. Over the following days and months, this non-violent form of protest spread and many more people staged sit-ins at shops and restaurants.



    Witness hears from one of the four men, Franklin McCain.

    • 9 min
    The Freedom Riders

    The Freedom Riders

    The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on buses, testing out whether bus stations were complying with the Supreme Court ruling that banned segregation.



    Listen to Bernard Lafayette Junior, an eyewitness to how Martin Luther King managed to prevent inter-ethnic bloodshed on a night of extreme tension during the battle against segregation in the American South.



    Picture: A group of Black Americans get off the 'Freedom Bus' at Jackson, Mississippi, Credit: William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

    • 8 min
    Nelson Mandela's Autobiography

    Nelson Mandela's Autobiography

    *** This programme was first broadcast on 25 October, 2011 ***



    In the mid 1970s Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography in prison, on Robben Island.



    Mac Maharaj was one of the prisoners who helped edit and conceal the manuscript.



    Photo: Associated Press, Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned.

    • 8 min
    ANC Bomb

    ANC Bomb

    The armed wing of the ANC party took its first violent action in 1961, when a bomb was planted at municipal offices in Durban.



    Ronnie Kasrils explained what happened that day.



    (Image: Ronnie Kasrils in 1961. Credit: Ronnie Kasrils)

    • 9 min

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