This summer I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a lot of the content that’s been digitized for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. It’s full of gems, and I’m so excited about the possibilities that it offers for discovery, research and education! When I opted to share a clip from Minnesota Public Radio‘s “Voices of Minnesota”, I learned that MPR was equally excited about re-discovering their content and sharing this program.
The program includes interviews with Sara M. Evans, a pioneer in the development of women’s studies movement in American, and former justice Rosalie Wahl, the first woman to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court. The interviewers themselves have each shared an introduction below, and you can listen to the program here: Voices of Minnesota with Sara Evans and Rosalie Wahl.
I’m looking forward to learning how MPR and other stations might re-discover and re-purpose their content now that it’s preserved in a new context, alongside an array of valuable stories in the AAPB! Enjoy!
Executive Editor and Host of American RadioWorks and former MPR reporter, Stephen Smith, who interviewed Sara Evans:
Historian Sara Evans was influential in establishing the field of Women’s Studies in the American academy. She started teaching in the 1970s, when there were relatively few female historians at American colleges and universities and when the study of women in history was considered a fringe discipline.
Evans says she was part of a new generation of scholars in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s who were inspired by the women’s movement to revolutionize historical practice. She is the author of six books, including Born for Liberty: A History of American Women and Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End. I interviewed Evans on a summer day in 1995 in the living room of her home near the University of Minnesota, where she has taught since 1976.
American RadioWorks Producer and former MPR reporter, Catherine Winter, who interviewed Justice Rosalie Wahl:
When Rosalie Wahl started law school in 1962, there was only one other woman in her class at William Mitchell College of Law. There weren’t any women on the judicial bench in Minnesota.
Thirty-two years later, when she retired from the Minnesota Supreme Court, a majority of that court was female, and women were serving as district court judges throughout the state. Justice Wahl had blazed a trail.
Wahl is best remembered for being the first woman on the Minnesota Supreme Court. But her appointment in 1977 was remarkable not just because she was female. Wahl had an unusual legal background for a court appointee at the time. She hadn’t come up through the ranks of a prestigious law firm or held political office or worked for the state attorney general. She had been a public defender.
Wahl was a champion of the underdog. She had a deep commitment to social justice. In this interview, she talks about living in an interracial house when she was in college in the 1940s. She tells how she and her housemates participated in sit-ins at cafes and movie theaters and “swim-ins” at the pool.
Wahl’s interest in protecting the rights of the downtrodden and in ensuring equal treatment for all was reflected in her time on the bench. While on the Supreme Court, she led a task force on gender fairness in the courts and a task force on racial bias in the judicial system. She also wrote opinions that championed equal treatment under law. In one famous ruling she authored, the court said the state could not impose more severe penalties on crack cocaine than on powder cocaine, because the effect of such laws was to penalize black people more severely than white people.
In this interview with Minnesota Public Radio, she talks about the excitement of being part of a growing movement of women in the law, and about how much has changed – and not changed – when it comes to fairness to women and to African American people in the legal system.
She also shares some poetry. Justice Wahl had a longstanding interest in poetry. She’d kept that side of herself fairly private, but in this interview she reads several of her poems.
This post was written by Bryce Roe, intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH. Interview introductions by Stephen Smith, Executive Editor and Host of American RadioWorks, and Catherine Winter, American RadioWorks Producer.