Nikhil Singh Interviews Matthew Jacobson

Nikhil Singh interviews Matthew Frye Jacobson
Brooklyn College, April 3, 2012
On the philosophy behind Historian's Eye, 15:16

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There are so many interviews in the archive that you just hear a kind of vernacular theorizing about the world that is nothing short of brilliant, but is nothing that you're gonna hear when you click on the TV and listen to the people who were paid to make pronouncements.
Full Interview

Lonni Tanner Interview

Lonni Tanner, Chief Change Officer, New York Dept. of Design and Construction
New York, New York, March 16, 2012

On Obama, 9/11 and Occupy, 8:41

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The hard thing for me about a consultant at all is that often times you're asked to solve problems that aren't the right problems to be solved.
Full Interview and Transcript

Nick Spitzer Interview

Nick Spitzer, Radio Journalist
New Orleans, Louisiana, March 22, 2010
On New Orleans post-Katrina, 11:45

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It comes up out of all these neighborhoods and cultures that have long been here together in pain and pleasure and there's a greater sense of unity, post-disaster, in what we can do together than I've seen in all the years I've been in Louisiana.
Full Interview and Transcript

Nettie Smith Interview

Nettie Smith, School Teacher
Boulder, Colorado, January 14, 2010
On improving education, 10:40

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I know people want change fast, but then I also see how slowly things change in any bureaucracy, and so I guess I don't put my expectations too high. I try not to.
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Mark Walsh Interview

Mark Walsh, PR Consultant and Bartender, New York Mark Walsh, PR Consultant and Bartender
New York, New York, October 17, 2012
On increased class tension since the economic collapse

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A lot of folks come in and out of the restaurant business who were laid off from real estate, laid off from Wall Street, laid off from various things, and they're not happy to be there. And there's a little bit of resentment at the folks who they see took down the structure that they were hanging onto.
Full Interview

Fred Moten Interview

Fred Moten, Poet and Professor
Durham, North Carolina, March 6, 2012
On Obama, 17:40

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I've just become so committed, and believe so much in a certain notion or understanding of the black radical tradition, and I believe that Obama knows something about that tradition, and I'm very, very angry with him, because I believe that he betrays this tradition.
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Zac Fabian Interview

Zac Fabian, Ice rink worker and media for OccupyCville
Charlottesville, VA, December 13, 2011
On OccupyCville, 26:01

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What we're doing isn't novel, it's not revolutionary. It's actually traditional. What people used to do is they used go to public spaces and have discourse. That doesn't happen anymore, and we're actually being criticized for doing it.

Sarah Cox Interview

Sarah Cox, Student
New Haven, Connecticut, October 12, 2011
On Occupy Wall Street, 31:21

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The point of [Occupy Wall Street] is that there is this space where people can relate to each other in a completely different way and can talk about what their issues are, whatever they are... in a way that's just not available anywhere else.

Chase Niesner Interview

Chase Niesner, Student
New Haven, Connecticut, October 11, 2011
On Occupy New Haven, 27:03

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I think eventually they're going to have to have some sort of leadership or structure. Just because a politician who wants to listen to them and wants to enact policy that will appease them can't sit down with 20,000 people.

Sarah Klein Interview

Sarah Klein, Student
New Haven, Connecticut, October 13, 2011
On Occupy Wall Street, 31:38

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We don't have an equivalent of Bobby Seal on trial, so we don't have that sort of catalyst in this moment, but we do have this same sort of crazy long war. It's hard to find it not it a little reminiscent of [the campus protests of the 1970s].

Vinay Prasad Interview

Vinay Prasad, Student
New Haven, Connecticut, October 12, 2011
On Occupy Wall Street, 15:47

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I do think that nonviolent protests can be effective, that's very clear, but I think in order for it to be effective, I think people have to be more committed to their cause.

Cyrus McGoldrick Interview

Cyrus McGoldrick, Civil Rights Director, Center for American Islamic Relations
Harlem, New York, New York, March 24, 2011
On Islamophobia, 34:00

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... you look at the statistics, I know you’ve seen them all, that 60, 70% of Americans have a negative view of Islam. But that is, 50% out of that 70% say they’ve never even met a Muslim.
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Maria Pineda Interview

Maria Pineda, University Administrator
Olympia, WA, April 22, 2010
On changes in the Yakima Valley, 6:49

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...Having walked with Cesar Chavez and doing all the work that he did for the gente and immigration and workers' rights and all that. It's just in that succession. There's still struggle. There'll always continue to be struggle.
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Nikhil Singh Interview

Nikhil Singh, History professor
New York, New York, January 20, 2010
On Obama's first year in office, 7:20

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I think, you know, it’s not an accident when that Senator Jim DeMint said, if we can stop him on healthcare, we’ll break him. And I have to say, I know we’re going to get to this, but there are echos of the slave driver in that, obviously, the South Carolinian, "we’ll break him."
Full Interview and Transcript from 2010
Transcript from January 2009 Interview

Ricardo Levins Morales Interview

Ricardo Levins Morales, Artist
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February, 19, 2010
On Obama, 13:53

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When I looked at where power is, it to me seemed clearly it wasn’t in the White House. The things [Obama] was talking weren’t within his power to do around free trade.
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Rosilyn Edgerton and Leonette Butler Interview

Rosilyn Edgerton and Leonette Butler
Amtrak from NY to Washington DC, Inauguration Eve 2009
On historical memory and the prospect of Obama's inauguration, 4:45

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It was a grassroots effort. It was just the everyday, working people who supported [Obama]. It’s like, how do you eat an elephant? You have to eat it one bite at a time. You can’t just gobble it down. And that’s how we did it.
Transcript

Shepard and Jean Geller Interview

Shepard Geller, Federal Judge, and Jean Geller
Gainesville, Florida, October 9, 2009
Pictured: Shepard Geller's train set
On immigration, 4:56

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The thing I like about conservative ideas is, I think they're more realistic. They're not as happy and as nice and clean, simple, as the liberal ideas, but I think they work a little better. Simply because they take into account the realities of human failure and human competition.
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Margaret Bodell Interview

Margaret Bodell, Gallerist, Director of Project Storefronts,
New Haven, Connecticut, November 18, 2010
On economic decline, urban space, and creative efforts at revitalization, 14:19

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Being a storefront hugger, I see a storefront and I see possibilities... It has never been easy to convince a landlord to let me come in and do something creative and build a community.
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Dan Russo Interview

Dan Russo, Hedge fund manager
New York, November 3, 2009
Dan Russo preferred not to be photographed
On the onset, scope, and culpability of the economic crisis, 10:36

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And I don’t think it’s the fact that people are bad by nature. I don’t think that at all. I just think that people are Darwinian a little bit, and they’re also self-serving, and they’re also going to protect what they’ve built.
Full Interview and Transcript from 2009
Full Interview from 2011
Full Interview from 2012

Vic Rosenthal Interview

Vic Rosenthal, Community organizer
Minneapolis, MN, February 20, 2010
On optimism, Obama, and small victories, 11:23

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I'm really struck by how little is said about what I believe is an attack on Obama for no other reason than that he's black.
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Alejandro Lara-Briseno Interview

Alejandro Lara-Briseno, Student
Berkeley, California, October 18, 2010
On the budget cuts, protests, and riots at UC Berkeley in 2008-09, 18:15

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I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was a year old, and as some of my friends say, I was imported along with a lot of other stuff. It wasn’t a decision for me, it was my parents’ decision to immigrate. But that has always remained somewhat in my mind; that though I am an immigrant it isn’t the same narrative or the myth around many people who immigrate to the U.S. If you’re a child you have no choice. You just come along.
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Michael Cohen and Leigh Raiford Interview

Michael Cohen and Leigh Raiford, Professors
Berkeley, California, October 17, 2010
On the budget cuts, protests, and riots at UC Berkeley in 2008-09, 35:12

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On the economic collapse in California, 17:51

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We see despair setting in amongst the students. We see that every time they raise student fees...students have to get outside jobs... And I know what that means. It means they’re not doing their homework. They’re not reading what I assign them. They do poorly on their tests. And they become less and less interested in things like history, literature, culture, and are more and more interested in whatever it is that they can do that is going to get them a job, so they can pay off $100,000 worth of loans.
Full Interview and Transcript

Margaret Southern Interview

Margaret Southern
Portland, Oregon, April 20, 2010
Margaret Southern preferred not to be photographed
On Obama's election, 10:15

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On racial integration in 1970s Portland, OR, 17:54

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America has managed to elect a black man, but not the son of a former slave, a person who was victimized, who came through this American black person's experience.
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Bonnie Fox Interview

Bonnie Fox, Medical Office Administrator
New York, New York, October 29, 2009
On the recession, business closures in Manhattan, 9:54

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On the recession and the experience of unemployment, 1:19

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Well this is the Upper East Side. And now all of a sudden– And it’s not because of the Second Avenue subway and all the construction that is going on about that –but I walk up and down: First Avenue, Second Avenue and Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue, and everywhere I look businesses are closing. All kinds businesses. And I think, this is really frightening. And they’re not re-opening. Nobody’s taking over the space.
Full Interview and Transcript from 2009
Full Interview from 2013

Daisy Khan Interview

Daisy Khan, Co-founder, Cordoba House Islamic Center
New York, New York, November 4, 2010
On Muslim identity in America, 5:58

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The community wanted us [the Cordoba Initiative]. The irony is all the opposition was coming from outside New York City. You know, Pam Geller, Spencer and Gingrich, and all these other people who don't even live in New York, who don't have a stake in New York and are speaking on behalf of the 9/11 families as if they represent the 9/11 families.
Full Interview and Transcript

Ivo Rabell Interview

Ivo Rabell, Realtor, Blueberry Farmer
Gainesville, Florida, October 7, 2009
On the recession, on economic trends in Gainesville over time, 10:38

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A lot of these guys didn't see an end to the market… They just wouldn't believe it.

Lesley Karsten-DiNicola Interview

Lesley Karsten-DiNicola, Cantora, Film Maker
New York, New York, November 4, 2009
On the current moment in US history, childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust, and coming to political consciousness in the '60s, 16:10

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I’ll never forget my father one day later in his life. We were driving and he pulled the car over to the side of the road. And he said to me, I hope the ideals that I’ve lived with haven’t been a burden to you. And I thought, No. Actually, they’re the greatest gift you ever could have given me. Though they are a burden. They are also a burden. It was a wise question.
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Gary Bretton-Granatoor Interview

Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Rabbi
New York, New York, February 5, 2010
On coming to political and religious consciousness, 30:24

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Here we are, 30 years out, almost 40 years out [from the Civil Rights movement]. Did it change? On the one hand, there were changes. Was the goal realized? The answer to that question is no.
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Jimee Lowe Interview

James H. "Jimee" Lowe, Activist, Film Maker, Administrator
Olympia, Washington, April 22, 2010
On Obama, racism, and his own Civil Rights-era childhood in Alabama, 7:11

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I think [President Obama] needs to really speak out on racial issues. I know he was forced to. But he shouldn’t have to be forced to. He’s a black man. He’s experienced. Just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you stop being a black person. You can speak as a black person and speak as a President too.
Full Interview and Transcript

Mayalan Keita-Brown Interview

Mayalan Keita-Brown, Lawyer, Immigrants' Rights Advocate
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 19, 2010
On Liberia, immigration, and immigrants' rights activism in Minnesota, 12:42

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But I see a lot of immigrants who are considered illegal, undocumented. There should be a system, to create a situation for these people to be legal and documented, so that they are not forced into situations where they become labeled as criminals.
Full Interview and Transcript

Seitu Jones Interview

Seitu Jones, Artist
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 20, 2010
On his family's history, racism, art, cultural nationalism, and his political education in the wake of the Emmet Till murder, 13:41

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…the tenets of the Black Panther Party and cultural nationalists, many folks felt that art should advance these political concerns. So I was doing pamphlets, brochures, illustrations for posters, and that’s how I saw my work. I saw my work being a part of this movement.
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Nora Burn Interview

Nora Burn, High tech worker, unemployed
Boston, Massachusetts, January 5, 2010
On the recession and unemployment, 7:10

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Even with the stress and uncertainty of what I was going to do next, I was still so much happier than the people still working. The people with jobs were just spread so thin and stressed-- so they were doing three jobs under the threat of losing their job if they didn't do it.
Full Interview

Jim Sleeper Interview

Jim Sleeper, Teacher, Writer
New York, NY, February 3, 2010
On civic, "small r" republicanism, Obama's first year, the "Fox News shouters" and contemporary conservatism, 28:02

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You know, I remember, when I was going around saying to people early in 2008 was, it's an actuarial question: how many of the people who will never pull the lever for a black man are still alive? We have to wait for a layer of people to just pass from the scene before a guy like this can get elected.
Full Interview and Transcript

Sarah Queener-Plourde Interview

Sarah Queener-Plourde, Student
Olympia, Washington, April 22, 2010
On her French-Indian ancestry, childhood in the Willamette Valley, and her dawning understanding of race and racism, 12:37

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For us to move as a community I feel we have to be bridges between the generations in order to share the knowledge and the intelligence that we both carry... we have to learn to listen to each other...That's what to me being a bridge is. And it takes all of us. It takes all of our colors and all of our experiences to do that.
Full Interview and Transcript

Sheila Payne Interview

Sheila Payne, Postal Worker, unemployed
Gainesville, Florida, October 9, 2009
On agricultural work and labor organizing, from Florida tomato fields to Washington state wineries, 7:20

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I organized in the fields because it really is true that if you don't have a bathroom in the field--you know, that's like such a small thing to have people have dignity. And that's what farm workers talk about. It's not about pay. It's about how I'm treated.
Full Interview and Transcript

Paul Landry Interview

Paul Landry, Carpenter
New Orleans, Louisiana, March 23, 2010
On coming home after Hurricane Katrina, 3:08

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I kicked the door and walked in, seeing my house, it was tore up, man. Tore up. Everything was everywhere. Everywhere I went I cried, cried. Even my pictures that I had from my daughters — all that’s gone. All the memories that I have of her right now is in my head.
Full Interview and Transcript

Thomas Dyja Interview

Thomas Dyja, Writer
New York, New York, July 2, 2012
On observing Civil War re-enactors, 9:13

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People were really trying to find direction by going back into the past, in maybe some really messed up ways.
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Bob Moses Interview

Bob Moses, Math educator and Civil Rights activist
Princeton, New Jersey, June 25, 2012
On the relationship of the Civil Rights era to the present moment, 30:22

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It was the [Civil Rights] movement years that introduced me to the idea of history and how history happens. I learned about that by watching the writings of the reporters, about the events that I had participated in. There's a framing of stuff here going on, there's a story that people want to tell, and it doesn't match the story in my head about the event that I was in.
Full Interview

Jerry Jacobson Interview

Jerry Jacobson, Psychoanalyst (retired)
Boulder, Colorado, June 19, 2012
On how his profession impacts his understanding of politics, 8:54

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The injection of fear into every public issue has been has been part of the poison in the system. It seems to justify the thoughtless, irresponsible blocking of governance. Because governance would be worse, is the implication of the argument.
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Ann Powers Interview

Ann Powers, Rock Critic
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, March 28, 2012
On present-day changes in the music industry, 15:43

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A counterculture that doesn't make space for women will eventually have a moment in which women rise up.
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Robert Viscusi Interview

Robert Viscusi, Poet and Professor
Brooklyn, New York, April 3, 2012
On the importance of race and ethnicity to America, 14:42

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But there are consequences. Because if you can't speak the language, then you are cut off from your own, specific history.
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Min Jin Lee Interview

Min Jin Lee, Novelist
New York, New York, January 18, 2012
On becoming a writer, 7:35

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I didn't start writing fiction until junior, senior year because I kind of thought that's what really, I guess, privileged people did.
Full Interview and Transcript

Betty Shamieh Interview

Betty Shamieh, playwright
New York, New York, December 16, 2011
On being an Arab-American playwright post-9/11, 12:38

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It's hard not to like President Obama.... But the fact of the matter is I feel very, as an Arab-American, I feel very vulnerable even under an Obama administration.
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Alicia Schmidt Camacho Interview

Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Professor
New Haven, Connecticut, September 28, 2011
On immigrants' rights efforts in New Haven, 25:32

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Part of the deep concern is how the criminalization and desire to remove or to contain migrants in a position of subordinate membership and diminished rights and protections has been the willingness of citizens to accept and participate in the erosion of their own rights, and their own freedoms from this government.
Full Interview and Transcript

Lizzy D'Sousa Interview

Lizzy D'Sousa, Journalist
New York, New York, April 28, 2010
On immigration policy, 8:16

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I mean I don’t hold much hope under an Obama Administration that things — I think the work that I’ve done around immigration has led me to understand that it’s going to take a generation before we get to a place where immigration is not understood in a framework of criminal justice or criminality or something that needs to be policed.
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Paul Raushenbush Interview

Paul Raushenbush, Pastor and Huffington Post Religion Editor
New York, New York, July 13, 2011
On the wide divergence of opinions on pressing social issues, 14:59

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What does it mean for me and Michelle Bachmann to both call ourselves American, and to feel very committed to this country, and feel religiously engaged in the well-being of this country?
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Carol Hogue Interview

Carol Hogue, Computer Systems Analyst
New York, New York, November 10, 2009
On our current moment, 2:35

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We're an empire, and we're going under, like all the other empires have done.
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Wendy Knox Interview

Wendy Knox, Theater Director
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 19, 2010
On running a transient theater company in uncertain economic times, 22:15

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We performed in every theater venue in town, but then we started going, "Hey, look at those warehouses"...We sort of bring a life to the building, and then being able to bring people into the building, that's really exciting.
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Greg Welk Interview

Greg Welk, Financial Advisor
Boulder, Colorado, January 15, 2010
On seeing the economic crisis unfold in the financial world, 14:36

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I attended all day seminars about collateralized debt obligations and collateralized mortgage obligations. And how they were the best thing since sliced bread. That they were completely safe. That it was a perfect asset to put clients into... And we later know that that wasn't the case.
Full Interview and Transcript

Dorothea Von Moltke and Cliff Simms Interview

Dorothea Von Moltke and Cliff Simms, Book Sellers
Princeton, New Jersey, May 10, 2010
On the changing nature of book selling in the new economy, 18:28

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That is one of the roles that a bookstore still plays, is that you come across [a book], you didn't know it existed, you weren't looking for it, but you found it, and it ends up being just what you were looking for... [but then] they order it on Amazon right then and there.
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Bernie Hesse Interview

Bernie Hesse, Grocer and Union Organizer
Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 20, 2010
On the impact of the economic downturn on union organizing, 5:23

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There's never been a great time [to organize], but I think with certain sectors, people say, we've got nothing to lose.
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Alvin Jackson Interview

Alvin Jackson, Pastor
New York, New York, March 8, 2010
On Obama, 13:38

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So we're not as far along as we think we are on the subject, on this whole race situation.
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Steve Jones Interview

Steve Jones, Investment Banker
New York, New York, March 29, 2011
On the onset of the economic crisis, 7:19

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I think capitalism pervades government, so we just need to think of our policies in a global sense. Dollars will flow to where cheaper labor exists, lower taxes exist. That's what will happen.
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Kathleen Toomey Interview

Kathleen Toomey, Car Service Dispatcher
Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 9, 2011
On the counter-Tea Party protest she organized in 2010, 4:33

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I just started in a new office, and if I say, "hey, I did this protest against Sarah Palin," I'm almost afraid of what people are going to say, because it's almost acceptable to hate the president, when it wasn't acceptable 6 years ago.
Full Interview

Eleanor Lewis Interview

Eleanor Lewis, Transplanted Southerner
Lincoln, Massachusetts, March 8, 2011
(Eleanor Lewis preferred to publish an image of her cat rather than of herself.)
On being a woman in graduate school in the '50s and '60s and activism, 14:17

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And having a Southern accent was not an advantage. It was horrible. I finally got to the point where I could say to people, I got here under the same rules you did it. So I am not stupid. I may have an accent that makes you think that I am, but I am not.
Full Interview and Transcript

Timothy McCarthy Interview

Timothy McCarthy, Social Justice Activist and University Lecturer
Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 9, 2011
On Obama and LGBT Equality, 16:14

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We can never take progress for granted. That we always have to be agitating in order to stop the flow of reaction. To stop the kind of juggernaut of conservatism.
Full Interview and Transcript

Gillespie, Daniels and Betts Interview

Melinda Gillespie, Alvinia Daniels, Lekisha Betts and Tory Betts
National Mall, Washington, D.C., Inauguration morning 2009
On the importance of Obama's inauguration, 6:21

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This day means a new life, a new life for each one of us.

David Montana Interview

David Montana, Second Chief, Yellow Pocahontas
New Orleans, Louisiana, March 20, 2010
Sharing a poem he wrote about Hurricane Katrina, 2:32

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Now I traveled through water that started to rise, with a bag on my back and tears in my eyes