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Airdate: Jan 15, 2016
Scientist: David Cline

Untold Stories

Untold Stories
Oral histories often reveal untold stories of people you may never find in a history book or a newspaper headline, but whose lives and work were truly significant.

Transcript:
Untold Stories

Cline: People have voices. They are heard. What we can do is make sure our ears are there and listening, and that can be tremendously validating to those people, as it should be, because they are important.

Oral histories often reveal untold stories of people you may never find in a history book or a newspaper headline, but whose lives and work were truly significant. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet

Cline: John and Jean Rosenberg worked for the Department of Justice's civil rights division.

David Cline is an assistant professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. As an oral historian, he met the Rosenbergs and recorded their story.

Cline: Now this was that division within the Department of Justice that was charged with finding and prosecuting cases that would then set civil rights precedent. So, the job of people like the Rosenbergs was to go out into the fields of Mississippi and find African-American complainants that were brave enough to actually put their name on a complaint in the case of say not being allowed to register to vote. So, the Rosenbergs were at the low-end of the the totem pole of the civil rights characters. And yet the work that they did -- and I'll say even more so the work of those who were willing to have their names put in lawsuits -- was extraordinary, and advanced the movement in ways that would never have happened without them. Stories like that let us understand the movement in a different way.

Cline: I often hear people say, "Why do you want to talk to me? I'm not famous. I didn't do anything great." But in fact they did. So our job is to go out there and find these individual pieces that make something incredible when they're put together, when that story is told.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet