June 12, 1998

Take A Negro Home

Two stories of people who try to cross the color line — and why it's still so hard. We hear the story of a failed interracial marriage and the story of a teenager from a poor inner city neighborhood (Cedric Jennings, pictured) who ends up at an Ivy League University — and how he barely survives there.


Ira reads from an editorial from a 1957 newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. It tries to scare white southerners about the NAACP by describing a Chicago human rights campaign called "Take a Negro Boy Home Tonight." The idea behind the campaign? "Racism can be combated by intimate relationships between Negro boys and white girls." No such campaigns really existed in Chicago. Ira explains that in this show we hear from two people who tried to do what southerners feared so much. (3 minutes)
Act One

Interracial Marriage

Rich Robinson's father is black, his mother is white. They married during the civil rights movement, believing the whole nation was moving toward greater and greater integration. After having three children, they divorced. Rich's mom went back to her segregated white world. His dad returned to his segregated black world. In this story, Rich sets out to discover the role that race played in their divorce and the role it played in their initial attraction. It's something he'd never discussed with them before. And he wants something more personal: advice on whether they think he should marry white or black. (32 minutes)
Act Two

Economic Integration

Cedric Jennings grew up in Southeast Washington, in one of the poorest communities in the country. Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind followed him for over two-and-a-half years, as Cedric tried to make it through high school and work his way into an Ivy League university. Once he gets there, he discovers that all the qualities that got him out of the ghetto make him an outcast in the Ivy League. Ron Suskind's reports on Cedric for the Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer Prize; his book about him is called A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League. (21 minutes)