19 episodes

On the morning of August 21, 1991, a group of Cuban detainees took over a federal prison in Talladega, Alabama, and demanded their freedom. But how did they get here? And what became of them after? In season two of NPR's Pulitzer-finalist show, we unspool a decades-long story about immigration, indefinite detention, and a secret list. It's a story about a betrayal at the heart of our country's ideals. And in charting a course to our current moment of crisis at the border, we expose the lies that bind us together.Support in-depth storytelling that matters by subscribing to Embedded+ and unlock early access to new episodes and sponsor-free listening. Learn more at plus.npr.org/embedded

White Lies Embedded

    • True Crime
    • 4.7 • 12K Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

On the morning of August 21, 1991, a group of Cuban detainees took over a federal prison in Talladega, Alabama, and demanded their freedom. But how did they get here? And what became of them after? In season two of NPR's Pulitzer-finalist show, we unspool a decades-long story about immigration, indefinite detention, and a secret list. It's a story about a betrayal at the heart of our country's ideals. And in charting a course to our current moment of crisis at the border, we expose the lies that bind us together.Support in-depth storytelling that matters by subscribing to Embedded+ and unlock early access to new episodes and sponsor-free listening. Learn more at plus.npr.org/embedded

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    The Men on the Roof

    The Men on the Roof

    It all started with a photograph. A photograph from 1991 of a prison takeover in rural Alabama. A photograph of a group of men on the roof of that prison holding a bedsheet scrawled with a message: "Pray for us." In the first episode of the new season of White Lies, hosts Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace go searching for answers to the questions raised by this photograph. Who were these men? What on earth had made them want to take over that prison? And what became of them after? As they search, they uncover a sprawling story: a mass exodus across the sea, a secret list, and the betrayal at the heart of this country's ideals. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 45 min
    The Boatlift

    The Boatlift

    The story of the men on the roof didn't start with that prison takeover in 1991. It didn't start when they were detained in federal prisons. And it didn't start when the government made a secret list of their names in 1984. Instead, it started in the spring of 1980, with one of the largest refugee crises in American history: the Mariel Boatlift. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 49 min
    The Rumors

    The Rumors

    During our reporting, we heard one story over and over again: that Fidel Castro had emptied his prisons to fill the boatlift. It's a story that's been told so often and with such conviction that of course it must be true, right? But what if this was more theater than history? What was happening in 1980 in Miami and throughout the country that made this story so compelling? Why did it feel so true to so many people? In Episode 3, we go to Miami to find out. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 51 min
    The Entry Fiction

    The Entry Fiction

    When President Carter promised to welcome the men and women arriving on the Mariel boatlift with "an open heart and open arms," he had referred to them as refugees. But technically speaking, they weren't refugees. They were classified as entrants, an immigration status with a peculiar legal standing in the United States. While entrants are physically allowed to enter the country, legally they're still at the border, asking to come in. Their presence in the country is known as a legal fiction — specifically, the "entry fiction." So even as Cubans were disembarking boats in droves through the summer of 1980, they were officially still floating off the coast of Key West. And this immigration status followed them to where they went next: an army base in rural Arkansas. In episode 4, the curious case of the militarized border in the middle of the Ozark Mountains. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 54 min
    The Pen

    The Pen

    On May 18, 1980, a man named Genaro Soroa-Gonzalez arrived in Key West from the port of Mariel. With no family waiting to sponsor him, he was sent by plane to a resettlement camp at an army base. There he was interviewed by the INS and, a few days later, he boarded another plane, this one bound for the federal prison in Atlanta. But wait - he'd committed no crime, so why was the US government detaining him? And how long could they hold him? In Episode 5, the story of Genaro Soroa-Gonzalez and the beginning of the indefinite detention of Mariel Cubans. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 43 min
    The Trial

    The Trial

    In Episode 6, we sneak into the graveyard of the Atlanta federal penitentiary with a radical peace activist to learn more about what happened in the prison in late 1984. A peaceful protest by detainees held in the Atlanta pen resulted in a violent crackdown, and one of the detainees, a man named Jose Hernandez-Mesa, was charged in federal court with inciting a riot. We tell the story of his trial — and the surprising verdict that began reshaping public opinion about the Mariel Cubans who were being detained. Want to hear the next episode of White Lies a week before everyone else? Sign up for Embedded+ at plus.npr.org/embedded.

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
12K Ratings

12K Ratings

S. L. Ziegler ,

Fantastic & Much Needed

As a white southerner, I desperately need stories like this — deep reflection on how whiteness (and all it entails) shapes public and private memory, forgetting, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Highly recommend

Scottp51 ,

Season 1 - Murder of Reverend James Reeb

Season 1 - In 1965, Reverend James Reeb — a Unitarian minister and civil-rights activist — was killed during the voting rights movement in Selma. This seven-part investigative podcast, hosted by native Alabamians Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace is incredible.

Therapist lady ,

Another powerful report!

White Lies nails it again! Powerful, exhaustive and revealing reporting! Must listen podcast. Thanks for the dedication to telling these critical stories about our history.

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