Destination Freedom

1940s radio series of biographical histories of prominent African-Americans
from archive.org

Destination Freedom was a weekly radio program produced by WMAQ in Chicago from 1948 to 1950 that presented biographical histories of prominent African-Americans such as George Washington Carver, Satchel Paige, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Lena Horne. The scripts for the shows were written by Richard Durham.

The show was the brainchild of African-American journalist and author Richard Durham. In cooperation with The Chicago Defender, he began this series over NBC Chicago outlet WMAQ in July 1948, with scripts emphasizing the progress of African-Americans from the days of slavery to the ongoing struggle for racial justice. Airing in Sunday-morning public-service time, the series built a steady audience in the Midwest with inspirational stories of social progress, earning strong support from Civil Rights organizations, and offering employment to a wide range of African-American performers.

Destination Freedom premiered on June 27, 1948 on Chicago radio WMAQ. Durham's vision was to reeducate the masses on the image of African American society, since he believed that it was tainted with inaccurate and derogatory stereotypes. Week after week, Durham would generate all-out attacks on these stereotypes by illustrating the lives of prominent African-Americans. For two years, Durham wrote script after script for Destination Freedom, receiving no financial compensation for his effort. In 1950, Durham's financial needs forced him to accept an offer by Don Ameche to write material for him. It is also said that Durham's relationship with NBC and WMAQ was not entirely harmonious. Continuing without Durham, the final year of the program turned to general themes of "American freedom," without the sharp focus on the African-American experience that had made it notable. This, WMAQ hoped, would create a show to rival Paul Revere Speaks, which was a popular show at the time. For about 50 years, the show was long forgotten until some transcripts were found, and the characters voiced by Fred Pinkard, Oscar Brown Jr., Wezlyn Tilden, and Janice Kingslow, were heard once more.

  1. The Knock-Kneed Man (6.7Mb)
  2. Railway to Freedom (6.7Mb)
  3. Dark Explorers (13.7Mb)
  4. The Denmark Vesey Story (6.5Mb)
  5. The Making of a Man (6.6Mb)
  6. The Key to Freedom (6.7Mb)
  7. The Heart of George Cotton (8.3Mb)
  8. Arctic Autograph (6.8Mb)
  9. The Story of 1875 (6.8Mb)
  10. Poet in Pine Mill (6.7Mb)
  11. Shakespeare of Harlem (6.7Mb)
  12. Citizen Toussaint (14Mb)
  13. Little David (6.7Mb)
  14. The Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse (6.8Mb)
  15. Echoes of Harlem (6.7Mb)
  16. The Rhyme of the Ancient Dodger (6.8Mb)
  17. Peace Mediator (6.8Mb)
  18. Black Boy (6.8Mb)
  19. Help the Blind (13.8Mb)
  20. The Ballad of Satchel Paige (26.7Mb)
  21. The Saga of Melody Jackson (13.8Mb)
  22. Anatomy of an Ordinance (5.1Mb)
  23. Negro Cinderella (13.9Mb)
  24. Ghost Editor (13.7Mb)
  25. Norfolk Miracle (13.1Mb)
  26. The Legend of Stackalee (6.9Mb)
  27. The Legend of John Henry (13.4Mb)
  28. The Trumpet Talks (7Mb)
  29. The Long Road (6.9Mb)
  30. Black Hamlet Part I (13.7Mb)
  31. Black Hamlet Part II (13.5Mb)
  32. Segregation, Incorporated (6.9Mb)
  33. The Saga of Senator Blanche K Bruce (8.6Mb)
  34. Father to Son (8.3Mb)
  35. Of Blood and the Boogie (6.7Mb)
  36. The Man Who Owned Chicago (8.5Mb)
  37. The Birth of a League (6.9Mb)
  38. Premonition of the Panther (7.1Mb)
  39. The Liberators Part I (8.8Mb)
  40. The Shy Boy (6.8Mb)
  41. Kansas City Phone Call (6.8Mb)
  42. Last Letter Home (6.9Mb)
  43. Patriotic Format (6.7Mb)
  44. Anna's Story (13.8Mb)
  45. Benjamin Drake Story (13.7Mb)

MP3 files hosted by archive.org.