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Exhibit Recalls Different Struggles for Justice

Sculpture of Rosa Parks by Marshall D. Rumbaugh
Sculpture of Rosa Parks by Marshall D. Rumbaugh

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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I’m Doug Johnson. This week on our program, we answer a question about Oprah Winfrey. We also have new music from MGMT. But first, we tell you about a new exhibit remembering some Americans who fought for justice.


Civil Rights Exhibit

DOUG JOHNSON: In Washington, there is a new exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution. "The Struggle for Justice" explores American human rights movements through the activists and leaders who took part. Faith Lapidus has our report.

FAITH LAPIDUS: A sculpture shows Rosa Parks just after her arrest in nineteen fifty-five. The black civil rights activist is in handcuffs. Two much larger white men stand beside her. Each has a huge hand around her thin arms.

One man is in a police uniform, the other in a blue suit. The men show little expression. Rosa Parks' eyes look off to the side and into the distance. Her mouth is set firmly.

On December first, nineteen fifty-five, Rosa Parks took a seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. At that time there were laws in the South that required blacks to give their seats on buses to whites. Rosa Parks refused to get up for a white man.

Police arrested and fined her. After that, she helped lead a city bus boycott that lasted more than a year. It ended after the United States Supreme Court ruled that such laws violated the Constitution.

Martin Luther King Junior also led the Montgomery bus boycott, along with many other civil rights demonstrations. "The Struggle for Justice" exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery includes a nineteen sixty-three photograph of him. He is on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington speaking to demonstrators.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

A march on Washington had brought about two hundred fifty thousand people to demand racial equality and freedom. They heard what became one of the most famous speeches in American history.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: " ... when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty we are free at last!"

Another photograph in "The Struggle for Justice" exhibit is from eighteen seventy. It shows Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, leaders in the movement for voting rights for women.

Women were not guaranteed the right to vote until nineteen twenty. That came with passage of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution. However, neither Elizabeth Cady Stanton nor Susan B. Anthony lived long enough to see that day.

In the photograph the two women sit at a table. An open book is before them. They wear the long, full dresses of their day. They look directly into the camera.

"The Struggle for Justice" exhibit also includes videos on the history of equal rights campaigns in America.

In all, the exhibit honors more than thirty individuals. Others include anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass, birth control activist Margaret Sanger and Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver.

The new exhibit joins the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

Oprah Winfrey

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes from Brazil. Luciene wants to know more about Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey is not only famous but powerful in the entertainment industry. Her TV talk show was first seen locally in Chicago in nineteen eighty-four. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" went national two years later and became a huge hit.

She has announced plans to end the show in September of two thousand eleven after twenty-five years.

This year's Forbes magazine list of the world's richest people estimated her wealth at almost two and a half billion dollars.

She founded the Oxygen media company, the Oprah's Angel Network charity and the Harpo film, television and radio production company. She also started O, the Oprah Magazine, and the list goes on. She has starred in several films and helped launch entertainment careers.

Oprah is getting more attention right now because of a new book. The writer, Kitty Kelley, is known for writing biographies of famous people without their approval.

Oprah Winfrey was born in the small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi. She has said that her family was very poor and that she had cockroaches for pets. Kitty Kelley says some family members have disputed both those statements.

Oprah Winfrey has not commented on the claims in the book.

As a teenager she went to live with the man she considers her father. Vernon Winfrey was supportive of her and her education. She became an excellent student and popular among her classmates.

Oprah Winfrey has said she is who she is today because of Vernon Winfrey. She went on to Tennessee State University where she earned a degree in speech and performing arts.

Oprah Winfrey became engaged to Stedman Graham in nineteen ninety-two but they have not married.


DOUG JOHNSON: MGMT is a young two-man band from New York City. Rolling Stone magazine placed the group’s first album “Oracular Spectacular” eighteenth on a list of the top one hundred albums of the last ten years.

Now MGMT has released its second album. Barbara Klein tells about the band and plays some music from “Congratulations.”

BARBARA KLEIN: Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden formed MGMT in two thousand two. They were students at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Both members play guitar, drums and sing. Ben Goldwasser also plays the synthesizer. He and VanWyngarden write the songs together. They decided not to release any singles from the new album. They want radio stations to choose what songs to play. Here is our first pick. It is called “Someone’s Missing.”


MGMT records with a major label, Columbia. However, the band is clear about staying pure in the music business. Goldwasser recently told a reporter that he and VanWyngarden oppose what some musicians do to get famous. He said they turn themselves into products. Goldwasser said he and his band partner are “one hundred percent about music.”

Listen now to “Flash Delirium,” from “Congratulations.”


MGMT is performing in Sydney, Australia on April sixth. Then the group will be performing shows in several American states, including an appearance at the Coachella festival in Indio, California.

We leave you with MGMT performing the title song from their new album, “Congratulations.”


I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written and produced by Caty Weaver. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook at VOA Learning English.

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