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The Underground Railroad

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

*Warning: Spoilers!*

In Colson Whitehead’s award winning novel The Underground Railroad, Cora, daughter and granddaughter of slaves, flees her plantation after a horrific punishment. She heads out with a fellow slave Caesar, who takes her to the underground railroad – in this novel, a real RR. She is passionately pursued by Ridgeway, a slave catcher while she experiences the horrors of American racism and the courage of the RR personnel. The book compares a mythological Southern narrative of slavery with Cora’s truths and Ridgeway’s version of the “American imperative.” Beautifully written, full of horrific incidents, the book reminds us of the power of racism, the government’s complicity in its implementation and persistence, and reminds us freed African Americans carried with them the legacy of violence, oppression, suppression, and more violence whether from the police, physicians, or any other institution.

Featuring Raphael Bostic, Liz Falletta, David Sloane, and Donnajean Ward

To listen to the Bedrosian Book Club discussion of The Underground Railroad click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play

Links & Related Reading

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad by Eric Foner
Bill O’Reilly response to Michelle Obama’s DNC speech
Ask a Slave: The Web Series
Episode 1

Richard Nation, Eastern Michigan University –
Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 by George J. Sanchez
Zoot Suit, JAN 31 – APR 2, 2017 at the Mark Taper
Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes From Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016 – past exhibit at the Vincent Price Art Museum
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
Murder She Wrote (IMDb, not available streaming at the time of this post)

“I say violence is necessary. Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie. Americans taught the black people to be violent. We will use that violence to rid ourselves of oppression if necessary. We will be free, by any means necessary.” – H. Rap Brown

An altered photograph of a public lynching, Marion, Indiana, August 1930; created by Claudia Rankine’s husband, John Lucas, from Citizen

Tuskegee syphilis experiment
Vanessa Northington Gamble
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Citizen, Between the World and Me, Enforcing Order
Hidden Figures

Animated interactive of the history of the Atlantic slave trade

Next Month …

Read Cop in the Hood by Peter Moskos along with us, and listen to our discussion on April , 2017.

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore City Police Officer, is an associate professor in the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He maintains a blog Cop in the Hood.

In this book, we see the streets of Baltimore from Moskos’s perspective. We will come back around to the issues of policing and “order” in American cities. “We see police academy graduates unprepared for the realities of the street, success measured by number of arrests, and the ultimate failure of the war on drugs. In addition to telling an explosive insider’s story of what it is really like to be a police officer, he makes a passionate argument for drug legalization as the only realistic way to end drug violence–and let cops once again protect and serve.” – Goodreads.

Read along with us! Let us know what you think of the book or the podcasts at Facebook or Twitter.

This podcast was produced by Aubrey Hicks and Jonathan Schwartz, recorded and mixed by Corey Hedden.




Bedrosian Center