Power, Politics, & Pride: Durham's Destination Freedom

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ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom, dramatizations of the great democratic heritage of the Negro people, brought to you by the station WMAQ as a part of the pageant of history and America's own Destination Freedom!

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Destination Freedom Broadcast

Destination Freedom was a groundbreaking weekly, half-hour radio drama that highlighted the accomplishments of noteworthy African Americans. The series premiered on NBC/WMAQ January 27, 1948, and ran for two years. The 91 original episodes were written solely by African American dramatist Richard Durham.

Durham's scripts were stirring appeals for racial equality and freedom. During a time when little was written on black history, Durham would meticulously research the events and people in each episode to bring historical truth to light. Characters were written to cut across the pervasive stereotypes in popular culture that portrayed African Americans as clowns, menials or slackers. In contrast, Durham's historical characters were given complex personalities that were "rebellious, biting, scornful, angry, and cocky, as the occasion calls for."

Destination Freedom received financial support for its first 13 broadcasts from the Chicago Defender. The Urban League of Chicago sponsored several broadcasts in the early 1950s. The efforts of Durham and the series' nearly all black cast were recognized by various local and statewide organizations as making a significant contribution toward the American ideal of Democracy.