We think we know what happened in our national past, but there may be secrets: what really happened at the Alamo, for instance? And while those colorful quilts created by African-American slaves are beautiful to look at, it turns out they contained coded maps to the Underground Railroad. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, America's hidden history. Also, how bigotry spooked advertisers and drove Nat King Cole off the air.
Stephen Harrigan is a loyal Texan, long-time writer for Texas Monthly magazine and author of the novel "The Gates of the Alamo." He gives Jim Fleming the standard version of the Alamo myth, then explains why it's impossible to know how much of the myth is true. He says at the time of the battle, all Texans were Mexican citizens and no-one really knows how Davey Crockett died. We also hear some sound from the classic John Wayne movie, "The Alamo."SEGMENT 2:
Daniel Mark Epstein has written a biography of Nat King Cole. Epstein tells Steve Paulson about Cole's prodigious musical gifts, describes a few horrific incidents of racial prejudice Cole endured, and explains what happened to his TV show. We also hear lots of Cole's music.SEGMENT 3:
Susan Lee Johnson is the author of "Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush." She tells Jim Fleming that the gold miners weren't all WASPS — there were Chinese, Mexican and French-speaking gold miners - and describes how men learned to do women's work and what happened when women from home began to arrive in greater numbers. Also, Raymond Dobard is a nationally known African American quilter and co-author (with Jacqueline Tobin) of "Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad." He tells Jim Fleming how slaves encoded secret maps of the route north into quilts that were hung in sequence over the fences on the plantation. Dobard explains some of the code, and how escaped slaves used it. We also hear another such coded map set to music - the Negro Spiritual "Follow the Drinking Gourd."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 00-07-23-B.
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