Witness: Archive 2011

Witness: Archive 2011

United Kingdom

The story of our times told by the people who were there.


Ruby Bridges Attends an all-White School  

In November 1960, Ruby Bridges became one of the first black children in New Orleans to be educated at a white elementary school. It began the desegregation of the education system in the Southern States. She was just six years old, and she had to be accompanied to school by US Marshals. *** Listeners should be aware that some of the language in this programme reflects the historical context of the time. *** Image: Associated Press

Mixed Race Marriage Victory in US  

In 1958, a mixed-race couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, were arrested and then banished from the US state of Virginia for breaking its laws against inter-racial marriage. Nine years later, Mildred and Richard Loving won a ruling at the Supreme Court declaring this sort of legislation unconstitutional. Witness speaks to the Lovings' lawyer, Bernie Cohen.

Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins  

On 1 February 1960, four young black men began a protest in Greensboro, North Carolina against the racial segregation of shops and restaurants in the US southern states. The men, who became known as the Greensboro Four, asked to be served at a lunch counter in Woolworths. When they were refused service they stayed until closing time. And went back the next day, and the next. Over the following days and months, this non-violent form of protest spread and many more people staged sit-ins at shops and restaurants. Witness hears from one of the four men, Franklin McCain.

The Freedom Riders  

The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on buses, testing out whether bus stations were complying with the Supreme Court ruling that banned segregation. Listen to Bernard Lafayette Junior, an eyewitness to how Martin Luther King managed to prevent inter-ethnic bloodshed on a night of extreme tension during the battle against segregation in the American South. Picture: A group of Black Americans get off the 'Freedom Bus' at Jackson, Mississippi, Credit: William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

Nelson Mandela's Autobiography  

*** This programme was first broadcast on 25 October, 2011 *** In the mid 1970s Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography in prison, on Robben Island. Mac Maharaj was one of the prisoners who helped edit and conceal the manuscript. Photo: Associated Press, Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned.

ANC Bomb  

The armed wing of the ANC party took its first violent action in 1961, when a bomb was planted at municipal offices in Durban. Ronnie Kasrils explained what happened that day. (Image: Ronnie Kasrils in 1961. Credit: Ronnie Kasrils)

Apartheid in the 1950s  

A snapshot of the attitudes and emotions on both sides of the racial divide as the South Africa authorites cemented the foundations of Apartheid in 1957.

The Voyage of the Empire Windrush  

In 1948 nearly 500 pioneers travelled from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush. The passage cost £28, 10 shillings. Passenger Sam King describes the conditions on board and the concerns people had about finding a job in England - and what life was like in their adopted country once they arrived.

The Brixton Riots  

In April 1981 the streets of Brixton, south London, erupted into violence. The fighting took part between young members of the black community and the Metropolitan police. A former rioter, Sheldon Thomas, and a former policeman, Brian Paddick, tell their side of the story. This programme was first broadcast last year. Photo: Press Association

US troops in Iraq  

US troops left Iraq earlier this month, well before their deadline of 31 December. We hear from one American soldier who remembers when they first invaded the country, almost nine years ago. Photo: John Crawford and a colleague in Iraq.

The creation of Tetris  

In 1984 one of the most popular computer games ever was invented in Moscow. Hear from Alexey Pajitnov, the Russian who created it, and Henk Rogers, the American who helped to sell it around the world. Photo: Henk and Alexey.

Enid Blyton and the BBC  

The children's writer Enid Blyton, was one of the most popular authors of the 20th Century. Books such as her Famous Five series were read by millions across the world. But Blyton was reviled by some senior managers at the BBC, who effectively banned her work between the 1930s and 1950s. Simon Watts uses audio and written archive to chart the difficult relationship between the author and the national broadcaster. PHOTO: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

The release of Sakharov  

In December 1986 the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov was allowed to return to Moscow. He had spent seven years in internal exile. His release had been ordered by the reforming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The sinking of the Scharnhorst  

She was one of Germany's greatest battleships during World War II. But on Boxing Day 1943 she was sunk in the freezing waters of the Arctic. Norman Scarth is a Witness listener who was on board a British ship and watched her go down. Photo: Norman Scarth the young sailor.

The Christmas Truce  

On Christmas Eve 1914, during World War I, British and German soldiers stopped fighting. Many of them left their trenches and started to talk and exchange gifts. But after a few hours of peace they were ordered back to their guns. Photo: Associated Press

Billy Graham  

As we approach Christmas we look back at the turning point in the career of the world's most famous evangelist - Billy Graham. He's preached the gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history - more than 200 million around the world - and it all began in north London in 1954. Claire Bowes has been speaking to the man who Mr Graham describes as the architect of international evangelism. PHOTO: Jerry Beavan and Billy Graham in the 1950s.

Concert for Bangladesh  

In 1971 the first big rock benefit gig was organised by former Beatle, George Harrison. He did it to raise money for refugees from the Bangladesh War of Independence. Hear from a friend, and a musician who were there. Photo: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The British Miners' strike  

Christmas 1984 was a difficult time for British miners who had been on strike for nine months. They had taken industrial action to try to save their coal mines from government closure. Listen to one miner's wife tell how her family made it through the anger and deprivation of that time. Photo: BBC

Spice Girls  

In 1996 the Spice Girls were at the top of the charts. Their brand of cheeky British pop had taken the world by storm - they called it 'Girl Power'. We hear from two Spice Girls insiders about the early days when Baby, Sporty, Posh, Scary and Ginger were complete unknowns who used to travel by bus. PHOTO: Spice Girls at an awards ceremony in December 1996.

Bangladesh wins independence  

In 1971, Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan after nine months of war. Kamal Hossain, a leading political figure, was jailed during the conflict and only released shortly after Bangladeshi independence. Kamal Hossain describes his feelings as his country won its freedom. PHOTO: Kamal Hossain (l) with the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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