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Seizing Freedom

History Podcasts

Highlighting true stories of Black people’s fight for liberation, progress and joy from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Seizing Freedom illustrates the myriad ways Black people have sought and defined their own freedom in spite of the monumental forces at work to keep them from it.

Highlighting true stories of Black people’s fight for liberation, progress and joy from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Seizing Freedom illustrates the myriad ways Black people have sought and defined their own freedom in spite of the monumental forces at work to keep them from it.


United States


Highlighting true stories of Black people’s fight for liberation, progress and joy from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Seizing Freedom illustrates the myriad ways Black people have sought and defined their own freedom in spite of the monumental forces at work to keep them from it.




Interview - Mariame Kaba

Season 2 Finale. Kidada speaks with activist and organizer Mariame Kaba about the ways many of us practice abolition without realizing it, how ordinary people have the power to collectively free themselves, and why safety can only be found through community. They discuss how the prison industrial complex and the systems it encompasses do more harm than good and identify solutions that address the underlying causes of criminalized activity and provide the resources and support needed for...


Reframing the Narrative?

African Americans couldn’t seize much universal freedom as the brick-and-mortar of Jim Crow walled them off from their rights. Still, race men and women fought. Following the death of three friends, instigated by the white press, Ida B. Wells committed herself to investigating and reporting the evils of lynching across the south, starting a newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee. It wasn’t long before her printing press was burned to the ground and she was forced to relocate to Chicago. The windy...


Interview - Julia Craven

Kidada speaks with health reporter Julia Craven about health and wellness for African Americans, both historically and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. They explore how health outcomes are influenced by systemic forces and not purely the result of the personal decisions people make on a daily basis, as well as the responsibilities of individuals to make an impact within the larger framework of public health. They also touch on the relationship between capitalism and mental health,...


Dethroning Disease

Attendees of the 1914 “Fifty Years of Negro Health Improvement in Preparation for Efficiency” conference, with speakers including Booker T. Washington, heard staggering information about the Black population’s “health”, which was in crisis. Life expectancy for African Americans at the time was about 35 years. African Americans rallied public health professionals to confront disease. They understood how poor health outcomes endangered their collective destiny and compromised their ability to...


Interview - Saeed Jones

Kidada speaks with writer, poet and social commentator Saeed Jones about the many facets of Black masculinity, how it has been shaped and reshaped over the years, and the challenges that have arisen around cultural expectations for the type of Black man you should be in order to be a credit to the race. They dig into the role of white supremacy in establishing and upholding these cultural norms and discuss how the system is operating and iterating and wreaking havoc even without active...


Inside Harlem's Speakeasies

Black workers were expected to take on “respectable” employment in the early twentieth century, essentially a racist dog whistle to keep them in the dirtiest, most dangerous and low-paying jobs. While some Black people had the means to reject these types of jobs, most couldn’t afford to. But power was there to be seized if you were willing to break the rules of respectability. In the “Negro metropolis” of Harlem, a complicated world developed in the shadows, one where Black men played by a...


Interview - Jamelle Bouie

Kidada speaks with New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie about the legacies of discriminatory housing policies in the United States and their impact, primarily on Black and other marginalized communities, from the beginning of the nation to today, as well as how they might be addressed in the future. They examine the differences in how that discrimination manifests explicitly and implicitly, as well as the roles both institutions and individuals play in contributing to these housing...


The Land of Milk and Honey

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several million African Americans left the South for the North and West. They wanted to raise their kids in a place where they could live and work undisturbed by violence and out from under a racist social order. And California was advertised as the land of milk and honey. But, contrary to what they had been sold, Black migrants to California—like Verna Deckard and her family, who left Texas for Los Angeles in the 1920s—had to fight to live and to...


Recommended Listening: Home. Made.

Today we're sharing an episode of Home. Made., a podcast that explores the meaning of home and what it can teach us about ourselves and each other. --- When Michael Atkins applied for a job as a teacher’s aid, he was offered a position as a part-time custodian. But he took it, because of a promise he made to his daughter: To be the father he never had. Michael proved he had a talent for relating to kids, and he worked his way up to teacher, and eventually, principal. But as he showed up for...


Interview - Paula Austin

Kidada speaks with historian Paula Austin about the shift in American society to protect childhood innocence in the early 1900s, and how that concept doesn’t apply to—or help us understand—the experiences of Black children who grew up during the early days of Jim Crow. Despite only white children being recognized as “properly innocent” and deserving of protection, Paula shares that Black children generally had a strong sense of self and were proud of their community and history. They also...


Children of the Sun

Many Black Americans at the end of the nineteenth century relied heavily on themselves, prioritizing self-determination and securing their collective destiny through solidarity, self-help, and economic independence. But blatant racism saturated media, entertainment, and education. Parents pushed for less harmful representation of Black life for their children, resulting in the creation of lifelike dolls and print media focused on chasing away the shadows of white supremacy with the light of...


Interview - Blair L.M. Kelley

Kidada speaks with historian Blair L.M. Kelley about how segregation grew out of pushback against Black upward mobility, and how Richmond, VA serves as an example of how boycotts can be a powerful tool for collective success to combat issues of justice following the streetcar boycotts in the city at the turn of the 20th century. They also discuss the role failure plays in laying the groundwork for future successes in social justice movements, encouraging current activists to look to history...


Walk! The Streetcar Boycotts

With white supremacist strategies for segregated societies solidifying in towns across America’s South, Black people needed to respond in ways that would ensure the freedoms their predecessors had fought to codify into law remained available to them. Between 1900 and 1910, in more than two dozen cities, African Americans tried to stem the tide of their exclusion from public life by taking the fight to the streets, boycotting streetcars that divided Black and white passengers. The pressure...


Interview - Kinshasha Holman Conwill & Paul Gardullo

Kidada speaks with Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; as well as writer, historian and curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Paul Gardullo. They reflect on The World’s Fair in Paris in 1900 and how they would curate a similar display of progress in 2022, alongside a discussion of the transformative power of museum exhibits, generally, and the value of...


On The World's Stage

The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago was an opportunity for the United States to showcase its spectacular growth and signal its arrival as a world power, but it failed to highlight Black Americans’ role in its development, and they took notice. So when Paris hosted the Exposition Universelle in 1900, African Americans knew creating space to showcase their progress to the world was of major importance. Among the exhibition’s attendees was W.E.B. Du Bois. He seized the opportunity to present...


Interview - Adam Serwer

Kidada speaks with Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic who covers race, politics and justice, about the role of the Black press in America, both historically and in the present. They look at how conspiracy theories, misinformation and slander have been used as a form of media propaganda since the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, and how pioneering journalists like Ida B. Wells-Barnett laid the groundwork for identifying and calling out these campaigns. Additionally, they discuss the...


The Fight of the Century

Black southerners and their allies were experiencing the brick and mortar of Jim Crow being installed in real time. Racial terror killings had been climbing, lynchings were becoming more shocking and segregation was gaining traction. And through all this, Black people were still fighting to find a strategy for surviving the afterlife of slavery so they could achieve the Promised Land of their ancestors’ dreams. Black people had to decide what that strategy was going to be for them and for...


Introducing Season 2 of Seizing Freedom

Coming February 1, 2022. The promises of Reconstruction were left unfulfilled. The violent system of Jim Crow was being built in real time, brick by brick. And Black people had vibrant debates about how to make a way out of no way; about the best strategy for life after emancipation and Reconstruction; to continue to achieve their ancestors’ dreams. Voice actors will use letters, diaries, newspapers, and autobiographies to bring you stories from luminaries like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and...


Introducing Toxic: The Britney Spears Story

Comedians Tess Barker and Babs Gray, who you might know from Lady to Lady or the now legendary Britney’s Gram podcast, are here to bring you a brand new investigative series about Britney Spears' conservatorship and the court system that's allowed it to persist. After launching the #FreeBritney movement, they started to dig… And what they found out, you won’t want to miss! Join Tess and Babs as they talk to exclusive sources, examine new sides of the story, and uncover disturbing truths...


Recommended Listening: 1865

While we work on the next season of Seizing Freedom, we think you'll enjoy listening to the podcast, 1865. In its new season, Ulysses S. Grant takes the White House, intent on rooting out corruption, crushing the KKK and bringing peace to a troubled nation. He has to contend with a divided people, a dysfunctional congress and a fractured Republican Party. While abolitionists across the country celebrated their hard-fought win in the fight toward equality, the steadily growing Ku Klux Klan...