history

Provided courtesy of Katherine Beckett, University of Washington

Ross Reynolds speaks with University of Washington sociology professor Katherine Beckett about the story of Jeff Coats who, along with two 17-year-old friends, robbed and kidnapped Tacoma resident David Grenier on Sept. 6, 1994. Beckett helped produce a full-length audio documentary about Coats, who she believes has rehabilitated himself.

The Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. is at center.
Public Domain

In March 1965, Steven Graves was studying in a Unitarian seminary in Chicago when he learned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was asking people from around the country to gather in Selma, Alabama, to march for voting rights for black people.

Graves asked himself an important question that would change his life path.

Newlywed bride and groom stepping into car, circa 1955.  Sign in front passenger side window reads "Hold Her Tight."
MOHAI, Al Smith Collection, 2014.49

Seattle is a young city, young enough that most of its history can be traced through photographs.

Until recently though, most of those photos have been official portraits or documentation of public works projects like the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Jimi Hendrix in 1967.
Wikipedia Photo

Jeannie Yandel talks with music historian and Jimi Hendrix biographer Charles Cross about a collection of early songs featuring Hendrix getting an official re-release.

Michael Stephens, founder of the Macefield Music Festival, looks at Edith Macefield's house on a recent afternoon. The house is now owned by the bank and could be put on the open market.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

If Edith Macefield had been standing outside the King County courthouse, she might have rolled her eyes.

An auctioneer stood behind a white plastic table. Men in black zip-up jackets sidled up to sign up to bid on her tiny Ballard house. Elbowing reporters jostled for space.

A shot-down fire balloon reinflated by Americans in California.
Wikipedia Photo

On March 13, 1945, World War II came to the U.S. mainland when a Japanese bomb fell on Everett, Washington.

But no airplane dropped it: A hydrogen balloon launched from a beach on Japan’s Honshu island had carried the incendiary device thousands of miles in just three or four days. Once the 30-foot diameter balloon reached 30,000-35,000 feet, strong westerly winds of the upper atmosphere – the jet stream – carried it toward North America.

Our guest on this episode of Speakers Forum is David J. Morris, a war correspondent, former Marine and PTSD sufferer.

Morris served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, but did not see combat then. He went on to work as an embedded journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004 he was nearly killed when a Humvee he was riding in hit an IED.

Sunset over the Alabama River and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Flickr Photo/sunsurfr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to University of Washington communication professor David Domke about the pilgrimage he and 52 fellow travelers took to the deep south. They met with civil rights leaders and visited key monuments in the civil rights movement. The trip culminated in Selma, Alabama on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where President Obama spoke in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday."

Fishing boats on Puget Sound
Flickr Photo/Canopic (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Sixty years ago, in the middle of the night, a Navy ship struck a small fishing boat in Puget Sound. The Santa Maria was from Tacoma, and three fishermen on board died. The deaths of three working men made front-page news, and their widows sued the Navy, but it looked like they would get nowhere, until a sound saved the day for them.

Note to our readers: This report contains some strong racial language.

This month Selma, Ala., will mark the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." That's the day police beat demonstrators attempting to march to Montgomery in support of voting rights. Some of the most iconic images of that day were captured by a white photographer — the late Spider Martin.

The cast of "Letters to the Editor": Shellie Shulkin, David Bestock, Molli Corcoran, Andrew Litzky, Laura Ferri and Carl  Shutoff.
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

The Jewish Transcript newspaper, now known as The Jewish Sound, first went to print in Seattle in March 1924. Its founder, Herman Horowitz, said he felt a duty to the Jewish community of the Northwest to provide a forum for “their ideas, aspirations and principles." 

To mark the publication’s 90th anniversary, the editors of The Jewish Sound approached Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre about a collaboration. 

The World War II-era Japanese battleship Musashi was sunk by U.S. warplanes on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the war's largest naval battles. Despite numerous eyewitness accounts at the time, the location of the wreckage was never known. Until now.

Monopoly can be pretty addictive once you start playing it, right? Well, for author and journalist Mary Pilon, searching for the game's true origins proved just as consuming. She writes:

"In the process of reporting this story, I hacked off over a foot of hair in one anguished swoop, sold off many of my material possessions, was confronted by law enforcement for falling asleep in public places ... found Monopoly money in my linens when doing laundry, fretted about finances, [and] had nightmares about the various aspects of the story. ..."

Rosa Parks is well-known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Ala., in December 1955. But Parks' civil rights protest did have a precedent: Fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, a student from a black high school in Montgomery, had refused to move from her bus seat nine months earlier. However, Colvin is not nearly as well-known, and certainly not as celebrated, as Parks.

Seattle's city hall was a mishmash of additions, including a basement where some prisoners were sent and brutally treated, fed a minimal diet of bread and water.
Seattle.gov

Little surprises Knute Berger, writer and local historian, when it comes to Seattle history.

So when he discovered that Seattle had used chain gangs – ball and chain style – into the 1900s, he thought, “Chain gangs? That’s a Southern thing.”

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