October 02, 2014 17:40 UTC

American Mosaic

Art and History Meet in African-American Exhibit at Museum

Art in the Kinsey Collection includes this 1990 woodcut 'The Faces of My People' by artist Margaret Burroughs
Art in the Kinsey Collection includes this 1990 woodcut 'The Faces of My People' by artist Margaret Burroughs

Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)

DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

(MUSIC)

I'm Doug Johnson.

This week we play love songs for Valentine’s Day…

And answer a question from China about bullet train development in the United States…

But first an exploration of African American history at the Kinsey Collection exhibit in Washington.

(MUSIC)

DOUG JOHNSON: February is Black History Month in the United States. The central message this year is African Americans and the Civil War. Two hundred thousand blacks joined the Union Army of the North to fight the Southern separatist Confederate Army. Their wives, mothers and sisters supported them in many ways. Yet their stories are not widely known.

An exhibit in Washington, D.C., holds important clues to this history and more about blacks in America. Faith Lapidus has our report.

The Kinsey Collection

FAITH LAPIDUS: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is presenting the exhibit. It is called “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect.”

It is being shown at the NMAAHC gallery at the National Museum of American History on the National Mall. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is to begin building its own center next year.

Bernard and Shirley Kinsey began collecting African American art and historical objects in the nineteen seventies. Bernard Kinsey says it started with an old document sent to him by a friend.

BERNARD KINSEY: “It was a bill of sale from William Johnson, eighteen thirty-two, for five hundred dollars. And when I opened that Fed-Ex up and held this document in my hand it was like I was holding this brother in my hand. And I said I want to know everything about him, and how he lived and this period. And that just started this deep and wide quest.”

The bill of sale is in a part of the show called “Stories of Slavery and Freedom.” The bill of sale, like many objects in this area, is extremely unsettling. The physical fact deepens the knowledge that people were once considered property.

There is a second bill of sale nearby. This time the purchaser is Henry Butler in eighteen thirty-nine. The bill shows a payment of one hundred dollars to Anne Graham of Washington, D.C. for the freedom of Henry Butler’s wife and four children. The bill states: “Signed, sealed and delivered.”

There are also a pair of shackles from around eighteen fifty. This device was placed around the ankles to restrain captives on the way from Africa to the Americas. The exhibit display explains that the shackles are so small they may have been for a child.

As visitors move through the show, they move forward in time. Covers of Harpers Weekly magazine give an idea of the involvement of black men in the Union Army. One cover shows the Twentieth Colored Infantry of Eighteen Sixty-Four receiving a silk banner in New York City. The banner was made by their mothers, wives and sisters. A proud African American crowd watches the ceremony.

In the “Freedom Struggles” area, there are signs of racial separation. These include a drinking fountain sign with arrows pointing one way for “whites” and another for “colored.”

Toward the end of the exhibit visitors reach “Remembering the Faces of a People.” This joyous section includes oil paintings, woodcuts, drawings, sculpture, photographs, fabric art and more. It shows the many ways African American artists see themselves and their community.

And it was the best part of the Kinsey Collection for visitor Aaron Crenshaw, of Woodbridge, Virginia.

AARON CRENSHAW: “The touching artwork. I never knew about, never knew existed. Been in the military so I’ve seen, like, the military side. But the art factor. It’s just an eye opener, if you’ve never seen it before.”

The Kinsey Collection will be on view until through May first. For a link to the exhibit visit our website at voaspecialenglish.com.

Bullet Trains in America

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes from China. Ching Feng wants to know about the development of “bullet trains” in the United States.

This week, the Obama administration announced a proposal to spend fifty-three billion dollars over the next six years to build high-speed rail service in the country. President Obama first talked about the idea when he was a senator campaigning to be president.

The Acela Express trains are the only true high speed trains in America.
The Acela Express trains are the only true high speed trains in America.

Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the high-speed rail plan at a train station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden said it would be good for the economy. He said the government investment project would increase private business productivity.

Republicans and Democrats generally support high-speed rail service. But they disagree on whether it should be paid for with federal money or through private investment.

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee, John Mica, called the idea “embarrassing snail-speed trains to nowhere.” The Republican lawmaker from Florida supports building such systems with private money.

However, it is questionable if these trains would qualify as bullet trains. Bullet trains generally travel more than two hundred forty kilometers an hour. There are bullet trains in Japan, China and France.

But such fast trains would take a long time to put in place in the United States. Federal rules require a lot of examination for environmental and safety concerns. The other problem is expense. Super-fast trains require all new railroads and systems. Federal officials are thinking more about trains that are not so fast but could travel along improved and expanded railroads already in place.

Valentine’s Day Love Songs

DOUG JOHNSON: It is all about love on Monday in the United States. Many Americans will be celebrating Valentine’s Day February fourteenth. It is not an official holiday but lots of couples still enjoy it. They might go out to a restaurant for a candlelit dinner, or give each other candy, flowers and other romantic gifts.

And sweet music in the background is also important. Christopher Cruise plays a few love songs that are popular right now.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Jamie Foxx released his album “Best Night of My Life” in late December. It went to number six on Billboard magazine’s Top Two Hundred Albums chart. Currently it is at number sixteen.

Jamie Foxx greets fans at Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl XLV last week in Arlington, Texas.
Jamie Foxx greets fans at Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl XLV last week in Arlington, Texas.

But one of his songs from the album is number one on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues charts. It is a slow, sexy number called “Fall for Your Type.” Hip-hop artist Drake joins in on the song.

(MUSIC)

Lori McKenna is a country music artist from Boston, Massachusetts. Her album “Lorraine” is number five on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. This chart presents the top-selling albums by new or developing acts or those who have never been on the charts before.

One reviewer wrote that “Lorraine” has songs describing all the ways love can break and all the ways it can heal. In one song, McKenna sings about a couple who married too young and in too much of a hurry. But, they stayed together. “You Get a Love Song” celebrates the beauty of the couple’s hard work and loyalty.

(MUSIC)

Finally, the British folk band Mumford and Sons released “Sigh No More” in the United States a year ago. But the album remains high on the Top Two Hundred. This love song from “Sigh No More” has an unearthly sound. And the love it talks about seems to reach spiritual heights. We leave you with Mumford and Sons performing “Awake My Soul.”

(MUSIC)

DOUG JOHNSON: I’m Doug Johnson. Our program was written and produced by Caty Weaver.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Ebola Dallas Hospital

    Audio First Ebola Case Reported in US

    An unidentified person has brought Ebola into the U.S. from Liberia. This person is being treated. Those he or she came into contact with are being closely watched. More

  • Ebola Liberia

    Audio US Troops Help to Fight Ebola in Liberia

    US is sending 3,000 troops to Liberia to help build medical centers where people infected with the virus will receive care. It will be the largest U.S. military operation in Africa since American troops left Somalia in 1993. More

  • A pro-democracy activist shouts slogans on a street near the government headquarters where protesters have made camp in Hong Kong, Oct. 1, 2014.

    Audio Protesters Call for Hong Kong Chief to Step Down

    Also at least 10 people were killed on Wednesday when shells hit a school playground and a minibus in Donetsk, Ukraine. And, U.S.-led airstrikes hit near a key Syrian border town for a second day, as Kurdish fighters defend the area from Islamic State militants. | In the News More

  • South Koreans march during a rally 100 days after the ferry Sewol sunk in Seoul, South Korea, July 24, 2014.

    Audio Ferry Investigation Divides South Korea

    South Korean lawmakers have agreed to launch a new investigation into the deadly passenger boat accident in April. But many people are not happy with the measure. Other citizens protest a second investigation. More

  • Mercedes Garcia of El Salvador fills in the application for her new ?green card? while waiting in a predawn line outside the Immigration and Naturalization Service office on Wednesday, March 20, 1996 in Los Angeles. Wednesday was the deadline to apply for

    Audio US 'Green Card' Lottery Registration Begins

    The US government’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 50,000 visas available every year. The program is designed for people from countries that have “historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” | As It Is More

Featured Stories

  • Children exercise during a weight-losing summer camp in Shenyang, Liaoning province, August 3, 2009. Obesity is becoming one of the biggest threats to children's health, a nationwide investigation has warned, pointing out that students' physical indicator

    Audio Physically Fit Children Do Better in School

    Several studies found that children who had physical activity on a usual basis improved in school. The children also learn best if physical activity is included during class or before. | Health Report More

  • Union and Confederates troops clashed on July 21, 1861 near Manassas Junction, Virginia.

    Audio Manassas Ends Hope for a Short War

    Many northerners wanted Union forces to seize the new Confederate capital and quickly end the rebellion. Pro-Union newspapers urged, "On to Richmond!" But the North soon learned it needed a better trained army to fight the Confederacy. More

  • Singer Lorde performs at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada May 18, 2014.    REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES  - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)  (BILLBOARDAWARDS-SHOW) - RTR3PR0U

    Audio Lorde Releases Single for 'Hunger Games' Soundtrack

    The 17-year-old New Zealander is curating the soundtrack. The album is to be released a few days before 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One' opens November 21st. | American mosaic More

  • The US is a nation of immigrants. But China is a nation of ... Chinese.

    Audio US, China: A Look at Immigration and Migration

    The U.S. and China have the two largest economies filled with opportunities and jobs. In 2013, a Pew study found that 45 million international migrants lived in the United States. Yet only “850,000 people living in China were born in other countries.” More

  • Artist conception of ISEE-3 in space.  (ISEE-3 Reboot Project)

    Video Citizen-Scientists Take Control of Old Satellite

    Former NASA engineer helps group get information from a satellite that was launched in the 1970s and had been silent for years; giving an old satellite a new mission. | As It Is More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs