| Semester 2:
The US through the 20th Century
Stage One: The Progressive Era
01/17/01: All that and more. Say hello to Trekker Stephen!
Stephen discovers that his sense of ethnic and cultural identity spans far beyond his family's roots in Germany, England, and Scotland. As a gay person who lived abroad for several years, in predominantly conservative, Catholic counties, he witnessed first-hand discrimination and felt the "otherness" that comes from being different. He has also experienced it here in America. Now, older and wiser, he is happy with who he is. He realizes his sense of family and his cultural identity includes gay people from all countries and cultures.
01/17/01: When Americans could live together in solidarity
Stephen explores the plight of newly arrived immigrants and the world of New York City's infamous tenement housing
01/20/01: Political corruption: the good, the bad and the ugly
Stephen uncovers the corrupt politics of "Boss" Tweed's Tammany Hall, and explores how the political body was responsible for immigrant and underclass political involvement during the 19th century. A few comments from Mike Wallace - Pulitzer Prize winning author of Gotham - shed light upon why Tammany Hall politics no longer exist, and how immigrants access their political voice in New York today.
01/24/01: Cuba Libre
Stephen visits Tampa and Miami, FL and discusses the Spanish-American War, Cuba's fight for independence from Spanish colonialism, and the imperialist motives behind US involvement. Legislation like the Platt Amendment obstructed Cuba's goal of independence and Marti's dream for a new Cuba.
Stage Two: The Roaring 20's & Great Depression
01/31/01: Undoing the Miseducation of Black America: W.E.B. DuBois
Stephen marches through Harlem to uncover the story of W.E.B. DuBois, one of the United States's most internationally renowned intellectuals and one of its first Black historians. Founder of the Niagara Movement and, later, the NAACP, DuBois applied his intellectual knowledge to personal activism and to the start of the civil rights movement at the beginning of the 20th century. A stop in Washington, D.C. and a talk with current members of the NAACP shed some light on the lasting influence of DuBois's legacy.
01/31/01: "Why Cat's Have Nine Lives," and Other Eatonville folktales
02/03/01: Those crazy-sexy-cool sufferin' Suffragettes
Stephen takes a walk through the home of Alice Paul's National Woman's Party in Washington D.C. He explains the roots of Paul's militant politics and why they were instrumental, perhaps even essential, to the success of the US women's suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Stephen also takes a look at Paul's political legacy, the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), and tells us how and why comtemporary women's organizations, like NOW (National Organization of Women), are still fighting the seemingly timeless battle over women's rights.
02/07/01: Cleaning up "Bloody Mingo"
Stephen is at the site of the Matewan Massacre, in West Virginia's Mingo County, where the union struggle in the Appalachian coalmines erupted into the largest armed labor dispute in American history. Stephen discusses "yellow-dog contracts", West Virginia's tent colonies, and later speaks with Matewan resident, Joyce Dyar, who is still fighting to have Matewan's history told.
02/17/01: "You are now entering the Mall of America: Consumerism is good. Consumerism is good. Consumerism is good."
Stephen takes a trip to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and creates a twelve-step program for shop-a-holics (and the rest of us) to combat American consumerism. In the midst of his rehabilitative program, he explains how and why the United States has become the world's poster-child for consumer culture and speaks with Kalle Lasn, the founder of the Media Foundation and the editor-in-chief of Adbusters magazine, to introduce some effective ways to combat the evils of shopping.
02/17/01: "Beans. I want more beans! And gimme some cars, too."
Stephen stops off in Dearborn, Michigan, the birthplace of the father of mass production, Henry Ford, to visit a modern day truck assembly plant and to tour Ford's museum and historical Greenfield village. While taking a look at the sweeping effects that the mass production of the automobiles has had on American life, Stephen peeks into Ford's life of risk, radical education, and innovation.
02/21/01: Hooverville, USA
Stephen treks through the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota and visits the Simpson House temporary homeless shelter. He compares contemporary life in the streets of Minneapolis to how it would have been during the Great Depression, when out-of-work men all over the US were forced to leave their homes in the city and move into Hoovervilles, or shantytowns named after the President who was blamed for the depression. Conversations at the Simpson House reveal how much more support there is for the homeless community today.
Stage Three: World War To Cold War
02/28/01: Mother Hen in the Ante-chambers of Hell: An Interview with Ava Schieber
Stephen speaks to Holocaust survivor, Ava Schieber, at the Facing History and Ourselves office in Chicago, Illinois.
02/28/01: In the Navy
Stephen is at the VA Hospital in Milwaukee, WI, speaking with former Navy man and World War II veteran, Edward Packl. After briefly introducing the politics of World War II, Stephen argues that many historical inquiries into WWII are dispassionate and pass over the voices of those who were directly involved in making the second world war one of the most impacting eras of human history. As he emphasizes the relevance of learning from our oral history, he documents his talk with Navy vet, Mr. Packl, to share what World War II was about for him.
03/10/01: Stephen - Heeeeehhhhhhh. Hop on the chopper and cruise through suburban paradise
Stephen takes a pitstop in one of the first planned suburbs in the US, Frederick Olmstead's Riverside, Illinois. While there, he explains why the option for living in suburbia became an American ideal in the 1950s and how that era of suburban life became the indicator of US popular culture for decades to come.
Stage Four: America In Upheaval
03/21/01: On Your Mark. Get Set. GO!!!
Stephen jets from visiting a Head Start school in Pennsylvania to the annual Head Start at Congress Day in Washington, D.C. In the two cities, Stephen witnesses the real benefits of Head Start for young kids and takes part Congressional efforts to increase exposure for the 35-year-old national program. While in D.C., he takes a look at the program's historical roots in the legislation of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and discusses its efficacy as a tool in the War on Poverty.
03/28/01: The People of the Pollock
Stephen travels up the birch lined northeastern coast of Maine to the Passamaquaddy Indian reservation, where he talks with tribal leader, Eddie Bassett, about the Maine Land Claims Settlement Act. While there, he discovers that fraud may have been involved in passing the decision that granted the Passamaquaddy millions of dollars to recover native land.
04/07/01: Ma' Silvia Says
04/07/01: Stephen - The summer Woodstock REALLY rocked!
The site of the Woodstock Music Festival may be just a field in Bethel, New York, but Trekker Stephen talks about how it was there, during three days in August 1969, that hundreds of thousands of young Americans formed the crowning moment for a decade of social revolution. Stephen explains that the lyrics and changing harmonies of 60's music began to break down racial barriers in artistic taste and worked to inspire solidarity among the country's disenchanted youth.
Stage Five: The US at the New Millenium
04/11/01: Seven Days to Conserve the World: Wilderness Island and the Paths of Mianus
Stephen takes a field trip through the Mianus River Gorge in upstate New York, the country's first landmark to natural history. In 1954, small groups of unlikely conservationists appealed to the Nature Conservancy to help them purchase and preserve the flora and fauna in the area. The Mianus River Gorge became the Nature Conservancy's first land acquisition in their now half-century history of natural conservation. The organization now heads the largest private system of natural sanctuaries in the world.
04/14/01: Skyscrapers go BOOM!: A Harrowing Tale of Reaganomics
On top of the Empire State Building and from the lakes of the Adirondacks, Stephen discusses the 1980's backlash to the political turmoil of the 60's and 70's. He mentions President Reagan's 'trickle-down' economic and industrial deregulation policies and suggests how they may have created the extreme concentration wealth and environmental devastation that characterize the 'Me Decade'. Keeping the current issue of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in mind, Stephen wonders if contemporary America has learned from the mistakes it made in the 80's.
04/18/01: True Colors of the AIDS Epidemic
Stephen talks about the introduction of the AIDS epidemic to the U.S. He speaks with one of the founders of The Names Project: AIDS Memorial Quilt, Mike Smith, and discusses the grassroots community organizing that formed the backbone of public awareness during the 1980's AIDS health crisis. A talk with grassroots activist, Kristen Klaasen sheds light on some of the current issues effecting American kids living with AIDS.
04/21/01: Stephen - "Operation Just Cause" was anything but just
Stephen exposes the deception of the American public by the US government and the media before, during, and after the US military invasion of Panama in 1989. After speaking with Academy Award winning documentarian Barbara Trent and political journalist Doug Vaughn, Stephen learns that independent voices and eyewitness accounts are sometimes the only way to find out the truth about history.
04/25/01: Learn, baby, Learn!: The Education Revolution in America
Stephen and Neda head off to Boulder, Colorado where they meet up with students involved in the organic farming project, Cultiva! From this meeting, Stephen begins a talk about the history of alternative education in the US and how important it is for young people to seek out new and innovative ways to learn.
05/02/01: Veggie Trek, USA
Neda and Stephen learn that there are 15 million vegetarians in the US and take off across the country to find out why. They discover the reasons for becoming vegetarian are as diverse as the people who made the decision to do so. Some of those reasons include an increased awareness about human health issues, global poverty, land USe, genetically modified organisms, animal rights and factory farming.
05/05/01: Stephen - Have a little faith and it will get you through
Stephen bids farewell to the US Trek and shares some of the important lessons he learned during his four months on the road. Stephen reminds us that we all have the have the power to be revolutionaries in our own time.