Maria Niro is a New York City-based artist and award-winning filmmaker whose work has been broadcasted on television and screened in theatres, festivals, and museums worldwide. She is a member of New Day Films, a filmmaker-run distribution company providing social issue documentaries to educators founded by American Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, activist, and feminist Julia Reichert in 1971.
She serves on the advisory board of More Art, a nonprofit organization that supports collaborations between professional artists and communities to create public art and educational programs that inspire social justice.
As the National Gallery of Art put it for the East Coast Premiere of The Art of Un-War:
“Internationally renowned artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has dedicated his work and life to denouncing militarization and war. Maria Niro’s recent documentary The Art of Un-War follows Wodiczko’s trajectory from his birth in Warsaw during World War II, to his expulsion from Poland by the communist regime, to today. Combining sculptural elements and technology, Wodiczko’s projects often function as interventions in public spaces, disrupting the valorization of state-sanctioned aggression. Since the 1980s, his deft, site-specific projections of images onto the facades of office and government buildings have grown to incorporate recordings of personal stories told by war veterans, refugees, and immigrants, projected directly onto war memorials, often animating the busts of revered historic leaders. Niro documents many of his major works, including The Homeless Vehicle Project (1988–1989), created in collaboration with homeless communities in Montreal, Philadelphia, and New York City; The Hiroshima Projection (1999), projected onto the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan; and the as-yet-unrealized project of transforming Paris’ monument to war, the Arc de Triomphe, into a temporary site for peace activism.”
As a nation, we are in the throes of a re-examination of history, but whose history, and who gets to tell it, and how do we live today with various versions of our history, that were memorialized in the past? How do we best evaluate and live with the impacts of different versions of history and the potential harm and even re-traumatization that a particular version creates?
What role does art play in this process? whose art? and for whom?
These are among the questions addressed by the filmmakers, Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, in their documentary, TOWN DESTROYER, which screens on Friday, June 2nd, at 1:00 PM at The Coast Cinemas.
You may recall the furor over whether or not to destroy or cover up the 13 panels of the 1930s murals by Popular Front artist, Victor Arnautoff, THE LIFE OF WASHINGTON, at San Francisco’s George Washington High School. Snitow & Kaufman film students, parents, Native American activists, artists of different ethnicities, scholars, and museum directors, all against a background of vivid cinematography of the controversial panels, as well as many other relevant works of art, both at the high school, and elsewhere across the country.
Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman’s films include the award-winning “Company Town,” “Between Two Worlds,” “Thirst”, “Secrets of Silicon Valley”, and “Blacks and Jews.”
Alan was a producer at the KTVU-TV News, the Bay Area Fox affiliate, for 12 years. Before that, he was an award winning News Director at KPFA-FM. He has served on the Boards of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Film Arts Foundation, California Media Collaborative, Food and Water Watch, and much more.
Deborah Kaufman founded and for 13 years was Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first and largest independent Jewish film showcase in the world. She has been a Board member of the California Council for the Humanities, the New Israel Fund, and Amnesty International USA. She has been a consultant, programmer, lecturer, and activist with a variety of human rights, multicultural and media arts organizations.
We spoke with Deborah and Alan on May 8, 2023 via Skype.
Katherine S. Newman became the Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs of the University of California in January of 2023. She was simultaneously appointed as the Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at U. C. Berkeley. Dr. Newman is the author of fifteen books on topics ranging from technical education and apprenticeship, to the sociological study of the working poor in America’s urban centers, middle class economic insecurity under the brunt of recession, and school violence on a mass scale. She has written extensively on the consequences of globalization for youth, on the impact of regressive taxation on the poor, and on the history of American political opinion on the role of government intervention.
Her latest, co-authored with Elizabeth S. Jacobs, a senior fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services and Population at the Urban Institute, is MOVING THE NEEDLE: WHAT TIGHT LABOR MARKETS DO FOR THE POOR, published this month by the University of California Press. We spoke with Dr. Newman on April 24, 2023.
We end this edition of Forthright Radio with audio from the last floor speech that Montana’s first transwoman elected to Montana’s State Legislature, Zooey Zephyr, before she was censured by the necessary 2/3 vote of House on April 26, 2023. Her offense? Calling out that the gender affirming health care they were outlawing would result in deaths, and used the phrase, “blood on their hands.”
Articles pertinent to this edition of Forthright Radio:
You may recall the horrifying news that hit the airwaves on March 26, 2018 about a van that had driven off the 100 foot cliff on HWY 1 just south of Juan Creek between Rockport and Westport on the north coast of Mendocino County, CA. Bad as the initial reports were, as more was learned about what had actually happened and what led up to it, the horror only grew.
Texas based journalist, Roxanna Asgarian, began investigating the tragedy within a day. Her investigations since have resulted in her book, WE WERE ONCE A FAMILY: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH, AND CHILD REMOVAL IN AMERICA, published in March, 2023 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
She writes it as the true crime story that it certainly is, but her primary goal was to uncover the untold stories of the birth families of the six Black children taken from their families, who did NOT want to give them up, and who were making efforts to keep them, when the deeply flawed child welfare system thrust them first into the foster care system, and then fast tracked them into out of state adoptions.
Roxanna Asgarian reports about courts and the law for the Texas Tribune. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine and Texas Monthly, as well as other publications. She received the 2022 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for WE WERE ONCE A FAMILY: A STORY OF LOVE, DEATH, AND CHILD REMOVAL IN AMERICA. It goes well beyond the earlier, sensationalist reportage by the mainstream press and delves into the systems and history that allowed this murder/suicide to happen. We spoke with her via Skype on April 10, 2023.
Tragic as this story of innocent children taken from their birth families by a Child Protection Service system which purports to protect children, it is but one aspect of our society that does NOT protect innocent children.
Once again, another mass shooting at a school ended in the murder and traumatizing of children, this one at the Covenant School in Nashville, TN, which led to protests at the State Legislature, the expulsion of two young black representatives, their unanimous reinstatement to represent their districts, and more diverse voices calling out the politicians only too happy to maintain the status quo.
One mourns the loss of the Hart children, particularly Devonte Hart, whose famous “hug heard around the world” – showing Devonte’s tear streaked face at the age of 14 hugging a white police officer during a tense demonstration protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He, with his “Free Hugs” sign, would have been 20 years old now. What might he have become, had his life not been cut short, his body never found?
The broadcast ended with Cheryl Wheeler’s song, “If It Were Up to Me,” which you can hear using this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op7agdIFOGY. It is sadly even more relevant than when she first recorded it in 1997.
In this edition of Radio Goes to the Movies, we inquire about a new documentary from Bozeman based Grizzly Creek Films with director, Eric Bendick, PATH OF THE PANTHER.
Drawn in by the haunting specter of the Florida panther, it follows a wildlife photographer, veterinarians, ranchers, conservationists, and Indigenous people, who find themselves on the front lines of an accelerating battle between the forces of renewal and the forces of destruction that have pushed the Everglades to the brink of ecological collapse.
Once ubiquitous in North and South America, but now perched on the edge of extinction, this perilously small, sole remaining population of the panther east of the Mississippi is an emblem of our once connected world. A vision of what could be again.
We spoke with the Emmy Award winning director of Path of the Panther, Eric Bendick, about his work and this powerful new film via Skype on April 5, 2023.
It will be premiering on the National Geographic/Disney+ channel on April 28, 2023.
Source: FloridaWildlifeCorridor.org; Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Philip Bump is a national columnist for The Washington Post. Prior to that, he led politics coverage for The Atlantic Wire. He focuses on the data behind polls and political rhetoric, as well as writing a weekly newsletter, “How To Read This Chart.”
His first book, THE AFTERMATH: THE LAST DAYS OF THE BABY BOOM AND THE FUTURE OF POWER IN AMERICA, looks at the overlap of the end of the baby boom and the upheaval in American politics and the U.S. economy.
After our interview with Philip Bump, we share excerpts from a conversation with former Congresswoman, Pat Schroeder, from 2014 at the Library of Congress.
At the age of 31 and the mother of two young children, she defeated an incumbent Republican congressman in 1972, and then was re-elected 11 more times before leaving Congress in 1997, disgusted with the obstructionist shenanigans of Newt Gingrich. In 1988 she ran for president of the United States.
Born in 1940, she would be designated as being in The Silent Generation, but she was anything but silent. It was she, who designated Ronald Reagan as the “Teflon President.” She served on the House Armed Services Committee, and you may be surprised by what she has to say about NATO. The final excerpt is from the end of an hour long conversation, responding to a question from the audience asking if she were president, what five things would she do immediately.
Leigh Goodmark is the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law, where she co-directs the Clinical Law Program, teaches Family Law, Gender and the Law, and Gender Violence and the Law. She also directs the Gender Violence Clinic, which provides direct representation in matters involving intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, and other forms of gender violence.
Her earlier books include A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System, and Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence.
Her most recent book is IMPERFECT VICTIMS: CRIMINALIZED SURVIVORS AND THE PROMISE OF ABOLITION FEMINISM, published by the University of California Press. It’s the latest in their Gender and Justice Series.
Since the 1970s, anti-violence advocates have worked to make the legal system more responsive to gender-based violence. However, greater state intervention in cases of intimate partner violence, rape, sexual assault, and trafficking has actually led to the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of victims, particularly women of color and trans and gender-nonconforming people. In Imperfect Victims, Professor Goodmark argues that only dismantling the system will bring that unjust punishment to an end.
We spoke with her via Skype on March 7, 2023.
Articles referenced or pertinent to this interview:
Dennis Baron is Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the technologies of communication; language legislation and linguistic rights; language reform; gender issues in language and more.
Among his earlier books are Grammar and Gender; A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers and the Digital Revolution; and What’s Your Pronoun: Beyond He and She.
His latest book, YOU CAN’T AWAYS SAY WHAT YOU WANT: THE PARADOX OF FREE SPEECH, is published by Cambridge University Press. We spoke with him via Skype on February 21, 2023.
Thanks to Roy Zimmerman for permission to share his music.
Henry Giroux, author, journalist and public intellectual, is the internationally acclaimed Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy and Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest at McMaster University.
He has written more than 56 books since his first book, Ideology, Culture and the Process of Schooling was published in 1981. He has been generous with us over the years with his time, insights and analysis, as he published books such as Zombie Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism; Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories, and the Culture of Cruelty; The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine; Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle; America at War with Itself; American Nightmare: The Challenge of US Authoritarianism; and The Terror of the Unforeseen.
His latest book is INSURRECTIONS: EDUCATION IN AN AGE OF COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS, just published by Bloomsbury Press. We spoke with him via Skype on February 8, 2023 about the multiple crises with which we are faced.
Seattle photographer, Nate Gowdy, has documented over 340 political events and protests across 25 states. He flew from GA to Washington, D.C. the night before January 6, 2021 to cover the much publicized so-called “Stop the Steal” Rally on the Ellipse.
He was about a mile away and heading to that rally along the national mall, when a couple of hundred Proud Boys marched toward him and the US Capitol from the Rally at 10:45am – hours before Trump was scheduled to speak. Having photographed many political events and demonstrations, he recognized some of them, and made the decision to turn and follow them, soon becoming swept along the growing flood of extremists to the very steps of the Capitol.
His photographic compilation, Insurrection, not only documents the events of that day when our democracy hung by the thinnest of blue lines, but contributes to the art form of war photography in the highest traditions of Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White and Matthew Brady. We spoke with him via Skype on January 11, 2023.