Tag Archives: Studs Terkel

Chilean Chronicles, Part 104: Returning Home to Chicago

Our view from the plane as we approached Chicago.

Our view from the plane as we approached Chicago.

We’re in the air from Toronto to Chicago.

We’ve left Santiago, site of fulfilled dreams, 80 degree Christmas Days, our impossibly dusty postage stamp of an apartment, and the consumption of more pisco sours and glasses, well, bottles, of red wine than we could have ever imagined, and are heading back to the Windy City that has been our home since 2002.

With grins that stretched beyond our ears, Dunreith and I deposited the check from the house sale we completed the day before we left on our Chilean adventure.

It far exceeded our greatest expectations.

We had the great privilege of being in Chile as the nation confronted, more directly than ever before, the still raw wounds from the Pinochet coup that happened on September 11, 1973.

We attended vigils and memorials events and plays and conferences and documentary films and panels and book launches, all of which were dedicated to grappling with the enduring impact of the overthrow of democratically-elected Salvador Allende and the brutal aftermath.

An actor playing Salvador Allende reading his final speech at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

An actor playing Salvador Allende reading his final speech at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

I’ve lived in the United States close to 50 years, but never before had I witnessed the concentrated and unified focusing on a single event in our nation’s history the way Chileans from Arica in the north to Punta Arenas at the end of the world turned their attention to the coup.

In October we witnessed the jubilant eruption of emotion issuing forth from Chileans who hugged, kissed, screamed and honked their horns when their beloved soccer team punched its ticket to the world’s largest sport event, to be held next June in Brazil.

A couple embraces after Chile defeats Ecuador at Paseo Orrego Luca.

A couple embraces after Chile defeats Ecuador at Paseo Orrego Luca.

In November we went to election events and talked to voters of all persuasions and ages and sides of the political spectrum during what turned out to be the first of two rounds in the presidential elections.

Some of the 6.6 million votes counted on Sunday, November 17.  Cab driver Claudio Contreras said it's important to evaluate which candidate will do best for the country.  Jon Lowenstein/NOOR/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Some of the 6.6 million votes counted on Sunday, November 17. Cab driver Claudio Contreras said it’s important to evaluate which candidate will do best for the country. Jon Lowenstein/NOOR/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

And in December we traveled to Torres del Paine, a national park of unsurpassed and staggering beauty that recently was named the eighth wonder of the world, when Michelle Bachelet made history in becoming the first candidate ever to be elected president twice in the post-democracy era.

Beyond these momentous months in Chilean history, we received an enormously generous reception from Chileans with whom we had some connection-we met everyone from dear friend Marjorie Agosin’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of cousins and former students to a female anesthetist Dad had helped train nearly 30 years ago to our colleague, friend of a friend, guide/secret weapon Alejandra Matus-and those whom we had the good fortune to meet through our travels.

My Data Journalism students at the University of Diego Portales gradually understood my Spanish, my teaching methods and the concepts and application of this type of journalism in a process that left both sides feeling enriched for the encounter.

My research into the landmark 2009 Transparency Act, after an initial shift in focus, led me to talk with journalists, lawyers, non-profit executives, government representatives and plain folks in a project that gave me a sharper sense of the law’s as yet incompletely realized potential.

Rodrigo Mora of Pro Acceso.

Rodrigo Mora of Pro Acceso.

Dunreith and I traveled to the vineyards of the Central Valley, to the coast cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. With Aidan we flew to the searing desert of San Pedro de Atacama, the world’s driest such space, and to Patagonia, a place Dunreith had longed to visit for years.

We also ventured to Rio, where I had the honor of attending, teaching and presenting to colleagues at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference doing investigative work, often at great physical peril, throughout the world.

We flew to Buenos Aires, where we met Dad and Lee before they set off on a two-week tour to Southern Argetina and up through Chile, and strolled together down elegant, inordinately wide, European-style boulevards, ate ice cream at Cafe Tortoni, the continent’s oldest cafe that oozes with swagger, listened and learned for three hours at ESMA, the largest of the Argentine dictator’s network of detention centers, and feasted on the sights and food of El Ateneo, the former theater that has been converted into one of the world’s most spectacular bookstores.

Permanent customers in the corner of Cafe Tortoni.

Permanent customers in the corner of Cafe Tortoni.

Jon and I had the tremendous fortune to receive a grant from the Pulitzer Center to do a project about the impact of the past on the present in Chile 40 years after the coup. Together we worked long hours over the course of two weeks for a three-part series that ran on The New Yorker’s Photo Booth and on Hoy’s website.

My brother and ace photographer Jon Lowenstein in action.  Working with him here in Chile was a fantastic experience.

My brother and ace photographer Jon Lowenstein in action. Working with him here in Chile was a fantastic experience.

The family visits over our final six weeks in the country helped confirm to me the possibility of weaving together the people and passions and dreams and values that I hold most dear. Perhaps, greatest of all, it’s fortified my increasing conviction that this way of living was not only possible, but could in a very real sense become ordinary.

Now, we are returning to Chicago, the city from which we have left, where we raised Aidan from a boy to a man, and where we have spent the vast majority of our married life.

I am, and will always be, a Bostonian at my core.

I had too many seminal events, from the Blizzard of 78 to the 1975 World Series to growing up amidst that inimitable accent for it to ever be otherwise.

But if Boston in my heart, Chicago’s in my guts.

The people’s straightforward manner and generous spirit, the city’s sense of itself as a place of story and legend, the passion that Chicagoans bring to their sports and their politics and their brats and their neighborhoods, its industrial past and tortured history with race and segregation and immigration and labor that make it what the late, great Studs Terkel called “the true American city”, have all gotten in deep, and are not going anywhere, either.

I’ll miss our life in Santiago and our travels throughout the country and continent, to be sure.

And I’m excited to fly over the leafless trees toward the dirtied snow and land at O’Hare, to walk in the 20 degree weather and see our breath and our circle of friends and family again, and to bring a fresh, broader perspective to my ongoing love for the city.

We don’t know our exact next steps, or, frankly, where we’re going to live after we stay at my brother Jon’s place on the South Side.

But we do know without any shred of a doubt that, as always, the adventure will continue.


Studs Terkel, C.P. Ellis and Life After Hate

Arno Michaels' publication Life After Hate follows in the path carved by C.P. Ellis.

UPDATE: Comment from Life After Hate editor Arno Michaels:

Thank you for a spot-on account of Life After Hate.

I would like to add that we welcome submissions for future issues. While LAH is a sort of former-racists-anonymous and there will be much more of that kind of content, we’re by no means exclusive. Angie has never had a racist bone in her body, yet she has fantastic stories to tell and deep lessons to teach. LAH welcomes the creative expression of anyone who is concerned and conscious. See our submissions section for the particulars.

I am honored by the comparison to C.P. Ellis, and will do my best to live up to the example he provided.

Issue 2 will have an interview with Milwaukee artist Bashir Malik, the next four chapters of My Life After Hate, and a piece I’m working on about the soundtrack that accompanied my life. You are so right about the epic role of music and thanks for the idea.

Here’s to clapping on the odd beat!


Of the many riveting characters one meets in Studs Terkel’s Race: How Black and Whites Feel About the American Obsession, C.P. Ellis is one of my favorite.

The former Ku Klux Klan official and ardent segregationist’s recounting of how he, largely through his relationship with black activist Ann Atwater, turned into an agitator for civil rights and a trade union official makes for compelling reading.

A big part of the attraction for me lies in Ellis’ unflinching honesty about his former views and how they eventually changed, in my mind, for the better.

In Race, Ellis does not spend much time dwelling on his past activities, but rather discusses how seeing that black and white workers were going through the same struggles made him realize they had a common opponent and cause.

Ellis died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2005, and Ann Atwater eulogized him at his funeral.

About five years later, a new and younger crop of former haters turned embracers of humanity has emerged-this time in a recently launched online publication, Life After Hate.

Founded by former white power skinheads and the friends that helped steer them in a better direction, Life After Hate seeks to chronicle the journeys of those who went down a dark path before emerging on the other side.

Part catharsis, part cautionary tale, the site has first-person essays and art, all of which it says it is dedicated to the idea that, in the words of Editor Arno Michaels, ” Our planet and thus the very life of every human being is under dire threat from fear, greed, and hatred that can all be conquered beginning with a simple smile.”

The first issue contains an editorial note from Michaels, whom I have met on the phone but not in person, about his changed vision of Dr. King,essays about women and a childhood relationship with a Laotian girl and her family by Angie Aker.

It also has a brief essay from former skinhead Christian Picciolini.

Picciolini opens the piece by describing a performance he and his band, “Final Solution,” gave before 3,000 fans in Germany in the early 90s:

“Absolute devotion to white power pulsated through the crowd on that foggy March day in 1993. I imagined this is how Hitler had felt when he led the Germans on his mission for a pure race. He was dead—persecuted and misunderstood as far as I was concerned—but I was more than ready to step in and undertake his mission.

Laws favoring blacks were taking white jobs and we were overburdened with taxes used to support welfare. Neighborhoods of law-abiding, hard-working white families were being overrun with minority gangs and their drugs. Gays—a threat to the very propagation of our species—were demanding special rights. Our women were being conned into relationships by minorities. Clearly the white race was in peril.”

Chilling stuff, to be sure, and particularly so for me because of our family’s history.

Picciolini goes on to explain briefly that over time he arrived at a different view of the world-a view that he has continued to develop and expand.

He also writes that he wonders now at times how he could have been so misguided.

From conversations with Michaels about his own writing, reading the first four chapters of his book that are posted on Life After Hate, and from reading Picciolini’s essay, I have learned that music often plays a key role in young people’s descent into hatred.

In a larger sense, though, one feels in both Michaels and Picciolini a desire to understand the choices they took and the hope for some sort of redemption from them through their current works.

The source of that redemption can come both through other people, through self-forgiveness and through spiritual inspiration.  For her part, Ann Atwater became convinced that Ellis’ change was authentic and worked productively and closely with him for more than 30 years.

We’ll see how today’s generation responds to what Michaels, Picciolini and others have to offer. For my mind, their efforts are worth more than a look.

Alex Kotlowitz’s Non-Fiction Favorites, Part II


Here is the second installation of some of Alex Kotlowitz's non-fiction favorites.

Here is the second installation of some of Alex Kotlowitz's non-fiction favorites.


On Saturday I posted a list I had come across of some of Alex Kotlowitz’s favorite non-fiction books, circa 2003. 

Here are the rest of the books on the list, along with his short comments.  Again I will star the ones that I have read. 


 Turning Stones by Mark Parent The personal story of a former worker with a child abuse agency.


A Hole in the Heart of the World by Jonathan Kaufman Five tales of Jews in Eastern Europe after the second world war.


Death at an Early Age* by Jonathan Kozol  Kozol’s first book, an account of his year teaching in a Boston high school.


Homicide* by David Simon A year with a group of homicide detectives in Baltimore. (The TV show is loosely based on the book.) 


The Power Broker by Robert Caro The biography of Robert Moses, the mega-developer.

Parting the Waters* by Taylor Branch The best book out there on the civil rights movement; his second volume is due out next year. 

The Amateurs by David Halberstam A year with a group of rowers.
The Best and the Brightest* by David Halberstam The best book on the Vietnam war; about the architects of the war.

The Promised Land* by Nicholas Lemann About the mass migration of blacks from the south to the north; and, recounts the successes and failures of the War on Poverty.

Common Ground* by Anthony Lukas The bible for my generation of non-fiction writers; the story of the fight over bussing in Boston.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer Krakauer’s account of what happened on Everest. He was there on assignment from Outside Magazine.

The Perfect Storm* by Sebastian Junger About a fishing boat that goes down off the coast of Nova Scotia.

 Working by Studs Terkel This is the book that most defines Terkel. If you like this, look at his other oral histories. They’ll teach you a lot about listening.
Boss* by Mike Royko On the first Richard Daley. A fun read.

Which Side Are You On by Tom Geoghegan A personal essay on the state of the union movement.

The Teamsters by Steven Brill Written two decades ago, still relevant today. 

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans Written in the 1940s about rural poverty. Essential reading for anyone interested in non-fiction writing. When it was published it flopped. But when it was reissued in 1960, it became a classic.

In Cold Blood *by Truman Capote  About a murder in a small Kansas town. Nobody can write like Capote. 

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe About the original astronauts. 

The Broken Cord by Michael Dorris The personal account of the author’s adopted son; he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

A Civil Action* by Jonathan Harr A lawyer takes on a big corporation which contaminated the water in a small Massachussetts town. Riveting. The author worked on this book for ten years.

 Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People by John Conroy Recounts three tales of torture, and how it is democratic societies can so easily turn their heads to such barbarity.

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson   A tale of a devestating turn-of-the-century hurricane, and the hubris of the nation’s then-most respected weather forecasters.


Studs keeps giving us reason to hope.

The late Studs Terkel provides us with reasons to keep the faith in this memorable book.

The late Studs Terkel provides us with reasons to keep the faith in this memorable book.

By any definition, it is safe to say that we are living through tough times.

The global economy is in one of the most extended downturns in decades

 Whole industries that once were the backbone of American industrial capitalism-automobile makers come to mind here-are teetering on the verge of outright extinction.  Global warming continues without abatement, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq grind on, and the violence in Sri Lanka has recently reached alarming levels. 

Here in Chicago, unemployment rates in black communities like Englewood are estimated to be as high as 33 percent.  To give an historical perspective, the peak unemployment rates during the Great Depression were in 1932, when 25 percent of the nation’s work force was unemployed.

Given all this evidence, some people understandably are feeling despair, President Obama’s bromides about the audacity of hope notwithstanding.

Yet there are reasons for optimism, and a book by the late Studs Terkel is one of them.

Studs died just four days before Obama’s historic election last November, but there was no mistaking who he supported. 

The legendary and Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian, who produced such memorable books as Working, The Good War, and Race, focused his attention shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the often elusive but undeniably real quality of hope.

 Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith During Difficult Times, a work that informs, teaches, inspires and reminds us what a treasure Studs was, is what resulted.

 Studs dedicates the book, which draws its title from a quote by farm worker Jessie de la Cruz, to Virginia and Clifford Durr, long-time advocates for peace, justice and equality in the American South. 

In the introduction Studs cites their “radiant vision, affirming themselves, saying no to the official word. 

“They may always have been in the minority, but it was a prophetic one,” Studs wrote.

Hope Dies Last is written in that spirit. 

In typical Terkel fashion, the book is sprinkled with well-known figures like Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Pete Seeger, Frances Moore Lappe, and former California Gov. Jerry Brown, each of whom share their thoughts about where we are as a nation, their own journeys and how the two intersect.

Yet the book also has plenty of people who are less renowned and have at least as important things to say. 

These include a pair of married undocumented immigrants from Guatemala talking about struggling to make it in America, Will Campbell, a white southern minister who talks about how his grandfather taught him to respect black people, and a university student who was galvanized into supportive action during a staff strike at Harvard and who acknowledges that he saw the workers differently after getting involved in their efforts. 

Chicagoans will enjoy reading the words of local griot Timuel Black, who continues to publish oral history books of his own as he approaches 90 years of age.  Black talks about his relationship by blood to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who in his youth was a Ku Klux Klan member.  Black recounts his skepticism at his father’s ultimately accurate insistence that the former KKK members would turn out all right as well as his initial meeting with Studs on the way to the 1963 March on Washington.

Others may want to read the words of Kathy Kelly, whom Studs calls The Pilgrim and whose words he uses to close the book.  Founder of Voices in the Wilderness, Kelly has not paid taxes to the U.S. government for nearly three decades and has shown her willingness to oppose war and fight for peace by being arrested countless times and serving multiple prison stints.

After one three month sentence in federal prison, she returned to Chicago by train.

Studs was there, holding a single rose.

As with his other works, Terkel’s presence animates the entire work.  Like few before, he was able to listen with insight, without judgment and with an intertwined sense of history, story and identity. 

His book reminds us that others before us have been through much more difficult times and survived, that the goal, at times, as expressed in the words in words of organizer Eliseo Medina, can be “to inspire other people to cotinue with the struggle,” and that we are truly privileged both to have Studs for as long as we did and to have access to the rich body of work he left behind.

Are you hopeful about the present? About the future? Why or why not?

What Studs Terkel memories do you have?

Heading out of town, but the posts continue.

The late Studs Terkel called his final memoir, Touch and Go.
The late Studs Terkel called his final memoir, Touch and Go.

I’m leaving for a week for Costa Rica with my family today, but will make sure to post quick tips about books that  I consider worthwhile reading.

Today’s selection is Touch and Go, the final of three memoirs by the  inimitable and recently deceased Chicago legend Studs Terkel.  Published in 2007, the book compresses his epic life into several hundred literary-drenched and adventure-filled pages. 

It’s well worth the effort.

Black History Month: Obama’s Speech and Books About Chicago.

President Obama spoke to the nation last night. Here are some books about black Chicago, his political home.

President Obama spoke to the nation last night. Here are some high-quality books about black Chicago, his political home.

 Last night, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.  Standing where presidents before him have stood for centuries, he assured the American people that, despite the current economic crisis, the nation will “emerge stronger than before.”

As has been well-chronicled, Obama’s political roots, his wife Michelle,and much of his cabinet are all from Chicago.  

Carl Sandburg’s City of Big Shoulders has been the backdrop for many fine books by and about black people.  Here are some of the best (My only caveat is that I will not write about books I have already posted on like Mary Pattillo’s Black on the Block, Studs Terkel’s Race, and James Ralph’s Northern Protest):

1. Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City, by St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton.  Funded by money from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, this massive tome by two acclaimed sociologists remains a landmark in the discipline and in its description of how Chicago’s black community formed and was maintained.   It may be hard to remember what a radical act choosing a black neighborhood, the historic Bronzeville district, as a legitmate subject of scholarly inquiry was at the time: Drake and Cayton built from this base to create a masterwork that still speaks to us today. 

2. There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America, byAlex Kotlowitz.  I had the great fortune to take a class with Kotlowitz while studying journalism at Northwestern University; the experience gave me a renewed appreciation of the care he gives to each sentence in his work.  This story of two brothers and their mother at the Henry Horner Homes is chockfull of poignant detail.  Kotlowitz’s moral outrage at the conditions in which these and thousands of other families lived throughout the city are the backbone of this compelling work.

3. Native Son, by Richard Wright.  Set on Chicago’s South Side, this tale of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas’ lofty dreams, murder of a young white woman and involvement with Communist Party members committed to his defense is utterly gripping.  Wright’s indictment through Bigger and his initially dim, and ultimately doomed, life prospects is vividly rendered.

4. A Raisin In the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry.  Drawing its title from a Langston Hughes poem, this play tells the story of the Younger’s family’s efforts to leave their dingy apartment and depressing neighborhood and move to a home in a white community moves, inspires and shames at the same time.  Hansberry’s dialogue, the shifts in action and tone, moments of humor and Walter’s gradual emergence into manhood despite white opposition to the move all sweep the viewer away.

5.Making the Second Ghetto: Chicago, Race and Housing, 1940-1960, by Arnold Hirsch.  This book can provide a deeper appreciation of the Youngers’ context if read in conjunction with A Raisin In the Sun.  Hirsch shows how the city’s elite and residents worked together when the U.S. Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kramer declared the enforcement of racial restrictive covenants unconstitutional.  Neighborhood responses varied from outright hostility and violence in neighborhoods like Englewood, to, in one of the most interesting chapters, Hyde Park and Kenwood’s establishment of a commission to “manage” integration so that black people would feel welcomed even as their numbers would remain somewhat limited. 

6. A Fire on the Prairie, by Gary Rivlin.  Former 43rd Ward Alderman Martin Oberman’s objections notwithstanding, this is the definitive account of Harold Washington’s groundbreaking mayoral victory in 1983-a victory that was spearheaded in part by Obama strategist David Axelrod.  A former writer for the Chicago Reader, Rivlin blends a keen eye for detail with his obvious political sympathies to create what some Australians call “a cracking yarn.”

7. The Man Who Beat Clout City, by Robert McClory.  Former priest and South Boulevard neighbor Bob McClory tells the story of Renault Robinson, a young black policeman who endures all kinds of abuse on his way to forming the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League.  I will devote an entire post to this book before month’s end, and wanted to mention it here as an engaging, informative and well-written read.

Black History Month: Studs Terkel and others talk about race.

Published in 1992, Studs Terkel's book about race informs us still.

Published in 1992, Studs Terkel's book about race informs us still.

Recently deceased Chicago icon Studs Terkel was remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which he was probably the only straight white man in both the Black and Gay and Lesbian Writers Halls of Fame.

Studs’ prolific career included multiple memoirs, work in television, a law degree-he never practiced-years and years on radio, and, of course, his oral histories. His subjects included the basic stuff of life and death: work; war; the Great Depression; and hope.

As many of the tributes that issued forth after his death just on the cusp of Barack Obama’s historic election noted, Studs had an unmatchhed ability to listen, to ask probing questions and to make people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, their stories, their souls.  He listened with equal humility and openness to all.

Despite spending the first twelve years of his life in New York, a stretch of time that disqualified him from truly being a Chicagoan, Studs loved Chicago deeply, and it loved him back.  My brother Jon did a project for Smithsonian Magazine in which he took pictures of Studs’ favorites Chicago places.  In that article, Studs asserted that Chicago was the most American of cities.

Studs also makes that claim in Race: How Blacks & Whites Think & Feel About The American Obssession.  In the book’s introduction, he writes, “Asided from a few visits elsewhere, Chicago is the locus of this work.  Of all our cities, it is America’s metaphor.”

And race is one of its most thorny topics.

Terkel interviews people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds-a Japanese-American couple and a number of Mexican-American folks’ words appear in Race-and the core is conversations with black and white people.

Many had been interviewed before.  One of the book’s many powerful features is that Studs had interviewed these people before-in some cases, as much as 25 years earlier.  Studs notes that Timuel Black, local griot of Chicago’s black community, who is still publishing oral histories of his own at age 90,  and he rode the same bus to the March on Washington, for instance.

The book is introduced with the words of Mamie Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered in 1955 during a trip to Money, Mississippi.  Mobley talks about the pain and hatred she felt toward her son’s murderers, but also about forgiveness.  From there, the work is divided into four sections, each of which has an overview and then accompanying interviews.

Chicagoans will recognize the presence of people like Pulitzer Prize winning-journalist Clarence Page and Salim Muwakkil, while aficionados of South Africa will enjoy the thoughts of Mark Mathabane and Rian Malan. Venerated civil rights activist C.T. Vivian, whose 1965 confrontation in Selma, Alabama of Sheriff Jim Clark was part of the Eyes on the Prize series, is in the book, too.

In addition to the appeal of learning from people one already knows, Race also has the benefit of hearing from people who are less publicly prominent.

Some of them have dramatic stories.

In one of the book’s most moving sections, Terkel includes the words of for former Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis and his former adversary, Ann Atwater, an African American activist in Durham, North Carolina.  Through a combination of hard times, straight talk and interpersonal contact, Ellis gives up his formerly racist views and Atwater comes to embrace the former Klansman.

Race is not a treacly story of transformation, though.

There are plenty of hard edges throughout the work.  Black people talk about being called racial epithets and their waning confidence that the country will ever give up its racism.  White people talk about their own and their family’s prejudices.  The subject of housing, educuation, jobs and community pulse throughout the book, showing that, close to 400 years after the first Africans arrived in what was not yet the United States, race continues to be a subject that bedevils the country without resolution.

The final section, Mixed, contains the words of two couples, each of which has one white and one black member, and their children.

At the end of the one of the interviews, journalist Hank de Zutter, who is white, looks at Amanda, his sleeping biracial daughter, and says, “Our daughter, who is now asleep, represents to me the embodiment of each culture … She carries a strength that neither of her parents has, because she’s the product of our daring to reach over, because we loved each other.

“She’s the future, if people realize the more we cross over, the stronger we are-as a country, as a planet.”

Stirring words, and, as always, ably elicited and recorded by the inimitable Terkel. 

Still, even as the country has elected the product of a similar union to lead our country, we would do well to look at all of the stories in Race to get the combination of bracing reality and persistent optimism that course through this and the rest of Terkel’s remarkable body of work.