The Reckoning traces the history and lasting impact of slavery in America by looking at how the institution unfolded in Kentucky. The state remained in the Union during the Civil War, but many white Kentuckians fought to hang onto slavery and the wealth the enslaved provided. In the years that followed, former Unionists and Confederates banded together to violently deny black citizens a seat at the table. As part of this story, we will meet members of two families, one white and one black, whose lives were intertwined through slavery. These families reflect how slavery touched nearly every person, place and institution in America, and how the country still needs to reconcile this painful past with the the impact slavery has had on the present day health, wealth and safety of African Americans.
Episode Ten: My Old Kentucky Home
If you live in Kentucky, it is hard to avoid hearing the state song, My Old Kentucky Home. But it is a song with a lot of historical baggage relating to the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in Kentucky. Our guest, historian Emily Bingham, will help us unpack that baggage. She is the author of an upcoming book about the song, Singing About Slavery: “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Episode Nine: Facing the Past
There are clear lines that connect the legacy of slavery to many of our present day issues, including the racial inequities of COVID-19 infection and deaths, wealth inequality, and ongoing police brutality. A true and deep understanding of our history allows us to navigate the present moment and stop running away from the past. Features interviews with Sadiqa Reynolds, Dr. Ricky Jones, Dr. Kidada Williams, Dr. Anita Fernander, and Dr. William Darity.
Episode Eight: Zebulon Ward
In addition to being a slave trader and the kidnapper of Henrietta Wood (which we heard about in our last episode), Kentuckian Zebulon Ward made a fortune as a pioneer of the convict leasing system, which, through a loophole in the 13th Amendment, continued slavery by another name for decades after the Civil War.
Episode Seven: Henrietta Wood
In 1848, Henrietta Wood was delighted to be granted her freedom when her enslaver moved to Ohio, a free state. But five years later, she was kidnapped, taken across the river to Kentucky, and sold back into slavery for another 13 years. In 1878, she successfully sued her kidnapper and received the largest known sum ever granted by a U.S. court in restitution for slavery.
Episode Six: Lost Cause
In the years that followed the Civil War, many Kentuckians embraced the Lost Cause ideology, even if they had fought for the Union. And some joined armed vigilante groups that used violence and terror to keep Black Kentuckians away from power and prosperity.
Episode Five: Aftermath
Kentuckians fought on both sides of the Civil War but came together at war’s end to oppose a common foe—newly emancipated African Americans yearning for education, dignity, and a decent living. In the process, the state pioneered restrictive racial laws that became models for the rest of the South.
This is one of the best comprehensive explanations of our national racial history and thereby current situation that I have heard. I wish more would be made. And I hope many people listen.
History Relevant to Our Time
White Privilege, Reparations, Institutionalized Racism: these are hot button topic of our time that many of us stake out positions on, and enter into arguments about without historical context. Listen to this podcast and you will be much better equipped to understand why racial disparities exist today. You will also get a sense as to why an attempt should be made to right the racial wrongs of our collective past.
The Reckoning answers the question “why is our country is so divided”?
What We Forget
Why do white people and the nation at large forget what slavery really was? Listen here to find out. Fantastic podcast!