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AMERICAN MOSAIC - October 26, 2001 - 2001-10-25


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:

We play some country music ...

answer a question about American superstitions ...

and report about a new hall of fame.

National Black Hall of Fame


Twenty-four African Americans of the past and present have been invited to join the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame. These athletes and entertainers were honored during a ceremony in the Harlem area of New York City a few weeks ago. They were honored for their skills and for leading the way for other blacks to become successful. Shep O’Neal has more.


Those invited into the National Black Hall of Fame include famous athletes Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson. Jazz musicians Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald also were inducted. The National Black Hall of Fame also honored several white people because of their work for civil rights for black people. They include singers Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and band leader Tito Puente.

African Americans have faced many difficulties in their struggle for equal rights in America. Black entertainers and athletes have been an important part of that struggle. Their success led the way for other blacks to succeed in America.

The idea for the Hall of Fame came from entertainers and athletes who wanted to honor their heroes, both living and dead. Those who attended the event agreed that the Hall of Fame also is a needed link between history and education.

The National Black Hall of Fame has not yet been built. The induction ceremony was held at City College. But event organizers say everyone agreed that the museum should be built in the Harlem area of New York.

Harlem is an international community. People of many ethnic groups settled there when they first came to the United States. Still, Harlem is known as the center of black culture. African Americans have made the area famous for most of the past one-hundred years. Harlem became the center of art, music and entertainment of black America in the early Nineteen-Hundreds.

The establishment of the National Black Hall of Fame is taking place as Harlem recovers from years of economic problems. However, many people fear that plans to develop the area will destroy its culture. Those inducted into the Hall of Fame say they hope it will be a way to protect African American culture for many years to come.



Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Minh Chi Le asks about superstitions in the United States.

A superstition is a belief in unseen and unknown forces that can be influenced by special objects or actions. A superstition is generally considered the result of fear of the unknown. Examples include the idea that Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky day. Or that something bad will happen to a person who walks under a ladder or lets a black cat walk across his path. Superstitions also include the belief that objects thought to bring good luck can prevent bad things from happening. These objects include a horseshoe or a rabbit’s foot.

A public opinion study done a few years ago showed that about twenty-five percent of all Americans considered themselves at least a little superstitious. Some experts believe the number is much higher but that people do not want to admit that they hold such beliefs in modern times.

Still, experts say that superstitions may help people by offering a sense of control in some situations. For example, athletes may wear the same jewelry, clothes or shoes during competitions if they believe that the object will improve their performance.

Next Wednesday, many Americans will take part in holiday traditions that grew out of superstition. Wednesday is Halloween. People from Scotland and Ireland brought the traditions of Halloween to America. Their beliefs went back more than two-thousand years to the ancient Celtic people in Britain.

October thirty-first was the Celtic day of the autumn feast. The Celts believed that the spirits of the dead would return for a few hours that night. They built huge fires to frighten away evil spirits released with the dead. It was believed these spirits would play tricks on people.

American children still try to play tricks on people on Halloween. They dress in unusual clothes and go from house to house asking for candy. They may play tricks if they do not get treats. But most will not. They are too busy eating their candy.



Today, we are going to visit a very small but famous place in the southern city of Nashville, Tennessee. It is called “Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.” Shirley Griffith has more.


Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a drinking place on Broadway Street in Nashville. It became famous because it is near the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman theater was for many years the home of the most famous country and western music radio program, The Grand Old Opry.

Performers who appeared at the Ryman Auditorium would often go out the back door and into Tootsie’s for a drink, or to talk with other musicians. Sometimes they performed there, too. Almost every country and western star has been in Tootsie’s at least once.

One good example is country singer Roger Miller. He often worked as a singer at Tootsie’s before he won seven Grammy awards and a Tony Award for best musical on Broadway. Stories say he wrote one of his biggest hit songs while sitting in Tootsie’s. It is called “Dang Me.”


Willie Nelson is one of the most famous country musicians. He also performed at Tootsie’s Lounge. In fact, he got his first songwriting job after appearing there. Here he sings “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground.”


Patsy Cline was another visitor to Tootsie’s. She often stopped there after shows at the Ryman Auditorium. One of her biggest hits was written by Willie Nelson. We leave you with Patsy Cline singing that song, ”Crazy.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Cynthia Kirk, Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineers were Tony Harris and Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.