Birmingham, Alabama: The Long Story Short

Birmingham, Alabama. Just the words make you think about freedom riders, church bombings, civil rights marches and police dogs. This is a place that can’t escape its history—especially the painful parts. Almost fifty years later after the tragedies and triumphs of the civil rights era, Birmingham is still a community trying to put itself back together. Some have started trying to unearth the city’s past and face it. To do that, people are looking beyond the civil rights era: from slavery to vaudeville, and from Birmingham as a steel town to its post-industrial future. In this hour, SOTRU brings listeners into the courtrooms, churches and backyards of Birmingham to answer the question borne out by the lives of people here: is Birmingham a monument to brutal segregation, or one of the few American cities willing to take a hard look at race?


  • Red Mountain Mining

  • Waiting for Her Flock

  • Scrollworks

  • Gip's Place

Episode Music

TortoiseFour-Day Interval
John FaheySunflower River Blues
Otha TurnerMy Babe
New York BluesPietro Frosini (1917)
Duke Ellington TrioFleurette Africaine
Bronx River ParkwayLima Blues
The BoggsThe Passage
Joan of ArcBetter D’ed Than Read
Duke Ellington & Coleman HawkinsLimbo Jazz
Lightning HopkinsLonesome Road
Bronx River ParkwayChum’s Pimpage
The BooksA Little Longing Goes Away
Joan of Arc (guitar duets)Bobby Burg & Nate Kinsella
Elizabeth CottenHome Sweet Home
Library TapesAbove the Flood
M. WardEnd of Amnesia


  • Angela

    This segment on Red Mountain Park was so moving! I am so glad they found miners to interview first-hand. “It’s everyone’s history and can be part of everyone’s future.”-Eric McFerrin. What a great starting place to begin the dialogue for Birmingham’s, for America’s, Civil Rights- how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

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