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Witness: Black History Collection Podcast

Witness: Black History Collection Podcast

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This excellent BBC podcast highlights key moments in black and civil rights history. Each 10-minute podcast covers a significant event or figure in black history in America and around the World. The podcast features interviews with people close to the events. You'll hear stories about the TV series Roots, the first black woman elected to Congress Shirley Chisholm, the mixed-race marriage victory of Mildred and Richard Loving, John Howard Griffin's experiments from his famous book Black Like Me, Rodney King's take on the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, John Lewis discussing Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and many other interesting stories from black history in over 40 episodes.


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Roots - The TV Series

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Jan 19, 2017


The epic mini-series about slavery in the USA hit TV screens in January 1977. Based on a novel by Alex Haley it imagined the lives of his ancestors who had been brought to the US from Africa on slave ships. It revolutionised perceptions about African-Americans and their history. Ashley Byrne has spoken to Leslie Uggams who played the character Kizzy in the series. (Photo: Actors LeVar Burton, Todd Bridges and Robert Reed in Roots. Credit: Alamy)

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A Black GI in China

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Nov 01, 2016


In November 1950, Clarence Adams, an African-American soldier fighting in the Korean war, was captured by the Chinese Red Army. He was held in a prisoner of war camp until the war ended. But instead of returning home, Adams and 20 other GIs chose to settle in China. Rob Walker has been speaking to his daughter, Della Adams. (Photo: Clarence Adams and his Chinese wife, Liu Lin Feng, courtesy of the family)

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South Africa's 1985 State of Emergency

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Sep 27, 2016


In the dying years of the Apartheid regime, the white minority government in South Africa was desperate to keep control as people took to the streets demanding change. A state of emergency was declared allowing the police and security forces sweeping new powers, which some individuals executed with extreme brutality. Rebecca Kesby spoke to Rev Dr Allan Boesak who was a political activist and church leader - he was one of those calling for an end to the unfair Apartheid system. (Photo: A young South African boy in Duduza township, Jul 1985 (Gideon Mendel, AFP)

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The Dance Theatre of Harlem

Author: BBC World Service
Wed, Aug 24, 2016


In August 1969, Arthur Mitchell founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem - the first classical ballet company to focus on black dancers. Virginia Johnson, now the organisation's director, was a founder member. (Photo: The Dance Theatre of Harlem, circa 1970. Virginia Johnson pictured back row, third from left. Credit: Marbeth)

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Race Riots in Liverpool

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Jul 25, 2016


In July 1981 race riots broke out on the streets of Liverpool. It was the first time that British police used CS gas to control civil unrest in mainland Britain. Witness has been hearing from a man who took part in the riot. (Photo: Lines of police with riot shields face a group of youths during riots in the Toxteth area of Liverpool, July 1981. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Black in the USSR

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Jun 20, 2016


Robert Robinson, a Jamaican born engineer, was recruited to work in the USSR from a factory in Detroit in 1930. Having had his US citizenship revoked, he spent 43 years unable to leave the Soviet Union. Dina Newman tells his story, using BBC archive. (Photo: Robert Robinson in the 1920s. Source: BBC archive)

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Kia Ora: Maori Rights Breakthrough in New Zealand

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, May 20, 2016


In 1984, Naida Glavish, a New Zealand telephone operator became famous for greeting customers in her native Maori language. Instead of "good morning" she insisted on saying "Kia Ora". The New Zealand prime minister supported her, and two years later Maori became an official language of New Zealand. Dina Newman spoke to Naida Glavish. (Photo: Naida Glavish as president of the Maori Party in 2013. Credit: Joel Ford/Getty Images)

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Britain's First Black Woman MP

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Jun 22, 2015


In 1987 Diane Abbott became the first black woman elected to the British Parliament. The daughter of first generation immigrants she was one of only four black MPs. Diane Abbott has been speaking to Witness about her election and making political history in the UK. (Photo: New black MPs Diana Abbott and Bernie Grant 1988. Credit: PA )

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Inter-racial Marriage in South Africa

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Jun 16, 2015


In South Africa in June 1985, the ban on marriage between people of different ethnic backgrounds was finally lifted. Suzanne Le Clerc and Protas Madlala were the first couple to tie the knot under the new rules. (Photo: Suzanne and Protas, courtesy of the family)

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Dorothy Mulkey - US Fair Housing Campaigner

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, May 26, 2015


In 1967, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling which effectively outlawed discrimination in the American housing market. The case was brought by Dorothy Mulkey, a Californian woman who had been preventing from renting an apartment in a white area. She talks to Adam Smith for Witness. PHOTO: Dorothy Mulkey at a Civil Rights exhibition in 2014 (Associated Press)

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Black Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Jan 29, 2015


In January 1972 Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party black candidate to make a bid for the US Presidency. She was also the first black woman elected to Congress. Witness has been speaking to Congressman Charles Rangel who worked with Shirley Chisholm. (Photo: Shirley Chisholm at the Democratic National Convention in 1972. Credit: Getty Images)

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The Scottsboro Boys: A Miscarriage of Justice in the US

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Oct 17, 2013


In 1931, nine black teenagers were convicted of raping two white girls in the southern US state of Alabama. Eight were sentenced to death by an all-white jury; but after years of campaigning, all eventually went free. We hear from the daughter of Clarence Norris, one of the accused. Picture: Police escort two recently freed "Scottsboro Boys" New York, 1937, Credit: Associated Press

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Ruby Bridges Attends an all-White School

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 11, 2013


In November 1960, Ruby Bridges became one of the first black children in New Orleans to be educated at a white elementary school. It began the desegregation of the education system in the Southern States. She was just six years old, and she had to be accompanied to school by US Marshals. *** Listeners should be aware that some of the language in this programme reflects the historical context of the time. *** Image: Associated Press

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16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Sep 13, 2013


On September 15 1963, four young black girls were killed in a racist bomb attack against a church in Birmingham, Alabama in the US. The Baptist church at 16th Street had been a centre for civil rights activities in the city. Sarah Collins Rudolph was badly injured in the attack, and her sister, Addie Mae was one of those who died. Listen to her story. Photo: BBC Copyright.

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Josephine Baker - Black American Superstar

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Oct 10, 2013


In 1925 a young black American dancer became an overnight sensation in Paris. Her overtly sexual act soon made her one of the most famous women in Europe. Her name was Josephine Baker - hear from her adopted son Jean-Claude Baker about her dancing, and her life. (Photo: Josephine Baker in her heyday. Credit: Walery/Getty Images)

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The Children's Crusade

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, May 02, 2013


Birmingham in Alabama was one of the most segregated cities in the USA in 1963. In May that year thousands of black schoolchildren responded to a call from Martin Luther King to protest against segregation at the height of racial tensions. It became known as the Children's Crusade. Gwendolyn Webb was 14 years old at the time and took part. Listen to her story. (Photo: Firefighters turn their hoses on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: AP Photo/Bill Hudson)

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Mixed Race Marriage Victory in US

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 08, 2013


In 1958, a mixed-race couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, were arrested and then banished from the US state of Virginia for breaking its laws against inter-racial marriage. Nine years later, Mildred and Richard Loving won a ruling at the Supreme Court declaring this sort of legislation unconstitutional. Witness speaks to the Lovings' lawyer, Bernie Cohen.

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Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Oct 07, 2013


On 1 February 1960, four young black men began a protest in Greensboro, North Carolina against the racial segregation of shops and restaurants in the US southern states. The men, who became known as the Greensboro Four, asked to be served at a lunch counter in Woolworths. When they were refused service they stayed until closing time. And went back the next day, and the next. Over the following days and months, this non-violent form of protest spread and many more people staged sit-ins at shops and restaurants. Witness hears from one of the four men, Franklin McCain.

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The Freedom Riders

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Oct 07, 2013


The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on buses, testing out whether bus stations were complying with the Supreme Court ruling that banned segregation. Listen to Bernard Lafayette Junior, an eyewitness to how Martin Luther King managed to prevent inter-ethnic bloodshed on a night of extreme tension during the battle against segregation in the American South. Picture: A group of Black Americans get off the 'Freedom Bus' at Jackson, Mississippi, Credit: William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

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The Mississippi Burning Case

Author: BBC World Service
Sat, Oct 05, 2013


Andrew Goodman was one of the three civil rights workers killed by the Klu Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964. He and the other two victims, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, had been working on a project to register African-Americans to vote. For Witness, Andrew's brother David recalls his brother's strong sense of justice and what his family lived through in the 44 days he was missing. He remembers how nationwide shock helped change America for good - and that it took the deaths of two white people to awake the conscience of middle America. Picture: Andrew Goodman, Credit: Associated Press

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Soweto Uprising

Author: BBC World Service
Sat, Oct 05, 2013


The Soweto uprising shook the Apartheid regime in South Africa to its core. But it all began with a demonstration by schoolchildren against having to learn Afrikaans at school. Alan Johnston has been talking to one of the schoolgirls who led the march on 16 June 1976. Picture: Students protest in Soweto against the introduction of Afrikaans in schools, Credit: BBC/Clarity Films/Peter Magubane

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Albert Luthuli Receives the Nobel Peace Prize

Author: BBC World Service
Sat, Oct 05, 2013


When Chief Albert Luthuli won the Nobel Peace Prize he was living under a banning order in rural South Africa. His daughter Albertina talks to Witness. Also listen to archive recordings of his acceptance speech. He won the prize for advocating peaceful opposition to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Picture: Albert Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960, Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive

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Nelson Mandela's Autobiography

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 04, 2013


*** This programme was first broadcast on 25 October, 2011 *** In the mid 1970s Nelson Mandela began writing his autobiography in prison, on Robben Island. Mac Maharaj was one of the prisoners who helped edit and conceal the manuscript. Photo: Associated Press, Nelson Mandela before he was imprisoned.

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ANC Bomb

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 04, 2013


The armed wing of the ANC party took its first violent action in 1961, when a bomb was planted at municipal offices in Durban. Ronnie Kasrils explained what happened that day. (Image: Ronnie Kasrils in 1961. Credit: Ronnie Kasrils)

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The Death of Steve Biko

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 04, 2013


The anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, died in a police cell in 1977. The South African police claimed he'd gone on hunger strike and had starved himself to death, but he had only been in prison a matter of days. Helen Zille was the journalist who helped uncover the truth of his death - that he had in fact died of a brain hemorrhage due to head injuries. The report she published in the Rand Daily Mail showed that the govenment had lied. (Image: Members of the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA) hold a candle light memorial ceremony to mark the death anniversary of the anti-apartheid activist and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement Steve Bantu Biko. Credit: RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/GettyImages)

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The Rivonia Trial

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 04, 2013


*** This programme was first broadcast on 10 February, 2010 *** Ahmed Kathrada was one of the ANC activists jailed alongside Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Treason trial in South Africa in 1964. He tells Witness the story of his interrogation and trial. (Image: Prison van with Rivonia trial prisoners 16 June 1964, Credit: AFP/Getty)

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Surviving Robben Island

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Oct 04, 2013


*** This programme was first broadcast on 11 February, 2010 *** When Nelson Mandela and his fellow ANC activists were imprisoned on Robben Island in 1964, South Africa's apartheid regime distinguished between races even in jail. Ahmed Kathrada was the one Asian prisoner to be jailed alongside him. He tells Witness his story. (Image: Prison corridor on Robben Island, Credit: BBC)

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Petula Clark Touches Harry Belafonte's Arm

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Oct 03, 2013


In 1968 Harry Belafonte and Petula Clark sang together her song On the Path of Glory for a special for NBC. Not such a remarkable event in itself, but Petula touched Harry's forearm during the duet and made TV history. It was the first time a white woman had touched a black man on US television. The sponsor insisted the touch be cut from the programme, the programme makers refused. Listen to the producer of the programme, Steve Binder. Picture: Harry Belafonte, Credit: Alan Meek/Express/Getty Images

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John Howard Griffin: Black Like Me

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Oct 03, 2013


John Howard Griffin, a white journalist, dyed his skin black to experience segregation in America's Deep South. John Howard Griffin wrote a book about his seven week experience. *** Listeners should be aware that some of the language in this programme reflects the historical context of the time. *** Photo: Griffin as a black man in 1959 (left). Courtesy of John Howard Griffin Estate.

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Beverly Johnson - Vogue's First Black Covergirl

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Aug 06, 2013


In 1974 American Vogue put a black model on its cover for the first time. We hear how Beverly Johnson made it to the front of the world's most famous fashion magazine.

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Black Golfer at the US Masters

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Apr 11, 2013


In 1975, Lee Elder braved death threats to become the first African-American golfer to play at the prestigious US Masters in Augusta. It was one of the last colour barriers in US sport and made him a hero to many black sportsmen - including Tiger Woods. Lee Elder recalls the tournament for Witness. PHOTO: Lee Elder playing golf later in life (Getty Images)

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The Los Angeles Riots

Author: BBC World Service
Wed, Oct 02, 2013


In May 1992 the people of South Central Los Angeles took to the streets in fury at police brutality. They were angry that Los Angeles police department officers accused of beating a motorist called Rodney King, had been acquitted. Hear Rodney King's take on the beating, and the unrest and violence that followed it.

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Apartheid in the 1950s

Author: BBC World Service
Wed, Oct 02, 2013


A snapshot of the attitudes and emotions on both sides of the racial divide as the South Africa authorites cemented the foundations of Apartheid in 1957.

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The Stolen Generation

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


Debra Hocking was taken from her indigenous Australian family as a baby and was placed with a foster family. It was part of a government policy to try to assimilate Aboriginal children into white families. Photo: PM Kevin Rudd prepares to apologise to the Stolen Generation in Parliament on February 13 2008. (Getty Images)

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Jamaica Slave Rebellion

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


*** Contains descriptions that some listeners may find upsetting *** Enslaved Africans are forced to work in sugar cane fields - the hours are long and there are frequent, brutal punishments. They have endured these conditions for 200 years. By 1831 the anti-slavery movement is gathering pace and the slaves decide to take action - by going on strike. Samuel Sharpe became a Jamaican national hero as he led the island's slaves in a rebellion against the overseers and sugar plantation owners. The rebellion was brutally crushed, but over time, the rebellion had a significant impact - and two years later in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act is passed. Picture: Making sugar in Jamaica, Credit: HultonArchive/Illustrated London News/Getty Images

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Haile Selassie in Jamaica

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Apr 22, 2013


In April 1966, Ethiopia's emperor Haile Selassie made a spectacular arrival in Jamaica. It was his first and only visit to the birthplace of the Rastafarian movement which revered him. A quarter of a million people greeted him at the airport. Photo: Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa, 1966. Getty Images

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African Troops During WWII

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


During World War II, African soldiers were a vital part of the Allied forces. Many of them were sent to Burma as reinforcements for the British troops there. Hear just some of their memories - recorded by the BBC in the 1990s. Find out more about African troops in Burma in Another Man's War: The Story of a Burma Boy in Britain's Forgotten Army, a book by former BBC correspondent Barnaby Phillips, published June 2015. (Photo: East African soldiers in Burma fighting for Britain in WW2, unknown date. Credit: Topham Picturepoint)

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The Voyage of the Empire Windrush

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


In 1948 nearly 500 pioneers travelled from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush. The passage cost ?28, 10 shillings. Passenger Sam King describes the conditions on board and the concerns people had about finding a job in England - and what life was like in their adopted country once they arrived.

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Bristol Bus Boycott

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Jun 04, 2013


In 1963, a small group of black activists in Bristol in the UK started a pioneering protest against racism by the local bus company, which had specified that they did not want to employ black drivers. Inspired by the example of Martin Luther King, the boycott ended in victory and led to the passage of Britain's first anti-discrimination laws. Paul Stephenson talks about his part in the protest.

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The Brixton Riots

Author: BBC World Service
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


In April 1981 the streets of Brixton, south London, erupted into violence. The fighting took part between young members of the black community and the Metropolitan police. A former rioter, Sheldon Thomas, and a former policeman, Brian Paddick, tell their side of the story. This programme was first broadcast last year. Photo: Press Association

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The Attica Prison Riot

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Sep 09, 2013


In September 1971 prisoners in a high security jail in the US rose up against their guards taking 42 people hostage. After 4 days of negotiations, armed police retook the jail. By the time the siege ended 39 people were dead. Photo: Discussions inside the prison on 10th September 1971. Associated Press.

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I Have a Dream

Author: BBC World Service
Wed, Aug 28, 2013


On August 28th 1963, the American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, made his historic plea for an end to racial discrimination in the USA. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he addressed hundreds of thousands of activists who had marched to Washington to demonstrate for black rights. Listen to John Lewis, the youngest speaker on the podium that day. Photo: Associated Press.

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Africa United

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, May 23, 2013


In May 1963, leaders of 32 newly-independent African nations came together for the first time in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. At stake was the dream of a united Africa. (Image: African leaders in Africa Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25, 1963. Credit: AP)

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Australia's Aboriginal Referendum

Author: BBC World Service
Wed, May 01, 2013


In May 1967 campaigning began across Australia to consolidate Aboriginal rights in the country. It took a referendum to change the constitution before they were regarded as legally equal citizens. (Photo: Aboriginal man playing a didgeridoo. Copyright: BBC)

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Muhammad Ali and the Draft

Author: BBC World Service
Thu, Apr 25, 2013


In 1967, the world heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, refused to be indicted into the American military. His decision to follow his conscience and not serve in Vietnam galvanised radicals across the US. Simon Watts speaks to Dr Nathan Hare about a visit by Muhammad Ali to Howard University at the height of the outcry over his refusal of the draft. (Photo: Muhammad Ali in training. Credit: R McPhedran/Express/Getty Images)

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James Brown Concert at the Boston Garden

Author: BBC World Service
Fri, Apr 05, 2013


The soul singer's April 1968 concert was held amid rioting and violence provoked by the assassination of Martin Luther King. But despite the fears of the city authorities, the streets of Boston were quiet the night James Brown and his band played. Listen to two people who were there. (Photo: James Brown. Credit: AFP)

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The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

Author: BBC World Service
Mon, Jan 14, 2013


For nearly 40 years, the US government conducted an experiment on a group of African-American men without their knowledge - to see what would happen if their syphilis was left untreated. Photo: US National Archive.

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