Strange Fruit

There is little doubt that Billie Holiday's rendition of "Strange Fruit" is among the greatest artistic interpretations of the horror caused by American racism. Originally written in 1937 as "Bitter Fruit", a poem by Aber Meeropol, the lyrics were inspired by Lawrence Beitler's photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He set it to music and performed it with his wife in and around New York. Holliday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939, regularly singing it afterwards with the following rules: she would close with it; the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on her face; and there would be no encore. During the musical introduction, Holiday stood with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer.

"Call Me Caitlyn," a Documentary

Bruce Jenner was known as the world's greatest athlete after her triumphant taking of the gold medal in the 1976 Olympic's men's decathlon. Now for better or worse, Caitlyn Jenner is perhaps the world's most famous openly transgender woman. Raising questions surrounding social constructs like gender and sexuality, Jenner came out in 2015 in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer. Later, she unveiled herself to the world as Caitlyn in a stunning Vanity Fair cover story. While she definitely did not spark the vibrant debate over gender and sexuality, Jenner added her voice to this national conversation. 

A More Perfect Union

A More Perfect Union

At the height his historic bid for the presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama found himself in the middle of controversy. His hometown pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had made comments from the pulpit that cast America in a less than exceptional light. Of course, Senator Obama own's patriotism was called into question and he responded with an attempt to contextualize Rev. Wright's comments and his own upbringing within the broader and wholly complex conversation about race in America. 

Here is a transcript of the speech:


Much has been said about Kanye West. His artistry, his persona, and his genius all have been awarded and questioned, lauded and condemned. Produced in 2010, 'Runaway' is set to songs from his fifth studio album, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', and depicts a romance between a man and a woman who is half-phoenix. Inspired by the works of Michael Jackson, Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini, and Karl Lagerfeld, West's short film is a representation of his own artistic sensibilities and runs parallel to his music career.

November 22, 1963: a CBS News Bulletin

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. CBS's Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America," delivered that news carrying the weight his own emotion and the emotion of an entire country. President Kennedy's death was an not only an occasion to mourn the loss of a youthful and vigorous commander-in-chief but also a development in a series of unfortunate events that seemed to plague America in the 1960s. His fleeting presidency would be remembered for his call to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" and his proclamation of a torch passed to a new generation of Americans.

Bernstein on Beethoven

Leonard Bernstein is the ultimate master of his class. Luckily for us, that makes him both a brilliant talent for musical composition and a profound gift for musical pedagogy. In this footage, Bernstein and Maximilian Schell attempt to unearth the meaning behind Beethoven's 6th and 7th symphony. In understanding the story and process of how these pieces came to be, they can be heard with an understanding that is perhaps truer to Beethoven's original intent. Bernstein makes the case that Beethoven was less concerned with melodies and more focused on constructing music that is "so unpredictable and yet so right."


In three minutes, Chris Nolan gives us an utterly human narrative. The story consists of a grungy man, in a filthy apartment. He is anxious and paranoid, trying to kill a small bug-like creature that is scurrying on his floor. It is revealed that the bug resembles a miniature version of himself. He squashes the bug with his shoe. However, every movement the "doodlebug" makes is later matched by the man himself, and he is later squashed by a larger version of himself. 

The Other America

The Other America

Before an audience at Stanford University on April 14, 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. laid bare his concern for Americans plagued by poverty. Years after his famous speech on the steps of the memorial for the Great Emancipator, Dr. King found himself not only as the leader of a civil rights movement in America but a movement for economic justice as well.

Here is a transcript of the speech:

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Dr. Randy Pausch's last lecture quickly became an international phenomenon. Dr. Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006. He got better and then much worse and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis and left with only three to six months to live. He gave his lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" to a fascinated and fully entertained crowd of over 450 at Carnegie Mellon University. The world watched as Dr. Pausch ruminated on his own childhood dreams and gave us a lesson on how to enable the dreams of others. Dr. Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008. 

Eleanor Roosevelt Interviews President Kennedy

This is an episode of the WGBH series "Prospects of Mankind," recorded and broadcast a few months into President Kennedy's term: March 1961. With Eleanor Roosevelt as host, guests on this show discussed the most pressing issues of the 20th century such as nuclear disarmament; political changes in China, Berlin, and around the world; and the role of the United Nations. In this particular episode, President Kennedy and Mrs. Roosevelt are discussing new legislation to create the Peace Corps and President Kennedy's objectives.