A diverse core of the original radio producers have organized a working group to restore and catalog these historical tapes, saving them from further deterioration and loss, making their historical value and lessons accessible to future generations.
The experienced staff includes longtime radio producers, radical activists, writers, educators, historians, and technical producers. We use state-of-the-art digital production and restoration equipment. Volunteers and interns organize the materials for restoration and preservation. A database catalogs this large body of work to ensure accessibility.
"The Freedom Archives makes a wonderful contribution to the unrecorded history of people's struggles."
The Freedom Archives contains over 10,000 hours of audio and video tapes as well as extensive documents. These materials date from the late-60s to the mid-90s and chronicle the progressive history of the Bay Area, the United States, and international solidarity movements. The collection includes weekly news/ poetry/ music programs broadcast on several educational radio stations; in-depth interviews and reports on social and cultural issues; diverse activist voices; original and recorded music, poetry, original sound collages; and an extensive La Raza collection.
These materials constitute a compelling record of 40 years of recorded sound, images and cultural diversity. The music/poetry mixes, production techniques, and sound collages represent an innovative contribution to the art of radio and the cultural ambiance of "the 60s" and subsequent decades.
Selected highlights are on a CD sampler, Roots of Resistance, to provide an example of the vast range of materials in the archive and to further promote the restoration work. While the preservation of the Freedom Archives is of immediate concern, future educational audio programs are envisioned for school use and radio broadcast.
This historical treasure, preserved and made widely accessible, brings to life the stirring sounds and images of these tumultuous times. Just a few highlights include: dramatic recordings of Fannie Lou Hamer, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Mario Savio, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Ramsey Clark during the war in Vietnam; prison interviews with Lolita Lebron, Assata Shakur, and George Jackson.
We have recently acquired a number of audio tapes about Latino movements from independent producer Jesse ‘Chuy’ Varela—now at KCSM—and an extensive collection of the late Colin Edwards—who produced programs for the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting, Irish Radio, and Pacifica Radio about everything from the Black Power Movement to Vietnam and the Middle East.
The archives contains much exclusive material on the civil rights, student, antiwar, prison, women's, and gay/lesbian movements along with an extensive La Raza collection and in-depth reports on key events from San Francisco to South Africa. The collection brings together the sounds and speeches of local and national leaders and protests, and the works of hundreds of poets, activists, and musicians.
Lessons of the Recent Past
There is an overwhelming need for the young people of today to have access to non-filtered, non-biased educational resources that allow them to learn more about our recent history. Young people need to know about and understand the aims, events, accomplishments and setbacks of those influential times. The archives and projects growing from the collection can help satisfy a growing interest by youth of many cultures in these social and cultural currents, and can assist them in unearthing lessons of the recent past even as they raise new concerns of their own. Educational programs utilizing multifaceted audio resources can convey recent history to high school and college students in dramatic ways that cut through the stereotypical depictions of textbooks, the mainstream media, and commercialized mass culture.
Educational Resources and Curricula
The collection is not only an invaluable resource to young people and students, but also to teachers, diverse community organizations and media outlets, activists, historians, artists and researchers. The collection conveys recent history to high school and college students in dramatic ways. Excerpts have been incorporated into new educational programming and the long-range potential is tremendous.
We are developing historical curricula based on primary sources, often misrepresented by textbooks and popularized history.
To do so we need to build our capacity to identify and preserve historical materials. The taped archive has also begun to deteriorate. Without preservation, its very existence as a vital resource for young people and future generations will be lost. On a shoestring, with largely volunteer labor, we have assembled the equipment and facilities to begin both the data base classification of the materials and the re-mastering of the collection. It is critical to preserve this oral history.
Our youth internship program will ensure that young people also play a crucial role in these tasks while benefiting educationally, technically, and in their future pathways and careers. A training program for students and new program producers provides experience in historic restoration as well as audio production and journalism.