Rating: 5 Stars
“Uncivil,” a podcast produced by Gimlet Media, attempts to shed light on the stories that didn’t make the cut in America’s official record of the Civil War. How America reflects on its history is determined by those who write it, which before the internet when fewer voices were accessible, meant it was transcribed and cultivated by white men. “Uncivil” gives the mic to unheard voices, allowing listeners to understand a turbulent and controversial time in American history in a more dynamic way.
After the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, podcast hosts Chenjerai Kumanyika and Jack Hitt saw an alarming trend occurring. While they were not surprised by the group’s expressions of racism, they were shocked by the number of politicians who responded to this event by denying that racism is perpetuated in society today.
Kumanyika, an activist, professor and journalist, and Hitt, an author who has worked for Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and This American Life, decided to make a podcast which would remind people that America has always been divided, and that not acknowledging parts of history doesn’t make them disappear.
“Uncivil” attempts to debunks many myths perpetuated by the effort to delegitimize the Civil War’s impact, including the misconceptions that the war was only about states’ rights and that the North wasn’t involved in slavery.
In the twelve episodes which have been released in the past two years, “Uncivil” has covered untold stories about the corruption, resistance, covert operations, mutiny and counterfeiting that occurred during the war and how that translates into modern American society. Most importantly they connect these struggles to the current political climate, which allows listeners to see ways in which we have changed as a society while also showing them how much further there is to go.
In the episode titled “The Fugitive,” Kumanyika quotes George Washington, saying “Truth will ultimately prevail where pains is taken to bring it to light.” This quote perfectly summarizes the show’s mission to change the way people understand the Civil War.
In 2017, the podcast’s well researched and thorough storytelling won them a Peabody Award for their first episode, “The Raid.” The Peabody Award Committee attributed this to the podcast’s ability to weave both public history and family stories in their retelling of 250 pivotal South Carolina slaves who escaped in their struggle for freedom during the Civil War.
“Drawing on community memories and the stories of descendants who participated in the raid, the podcast beautifully tells the engaging but little acknowledged story of the planning and execution (behind Confederate troop lines) of the event, which led to the freeing of 750 enslaved men, women, and children,” the Peabody Award Committee said.
“Uncivil” successfully reminds listeners that the marginalization of black communities, the pain and suffering inflicted onto those who deserved liberation and the deeply rooted ideology of white supremacy are not only tales of American history, but still perpetuate in society today.
“Uncivil” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora and on their website http://www.gimletmedia.com/uncivil.