[image-1] Uncivil, a popular history podcast hosted by journalists Jack Hitt (a Charleston native) and assistant Professor at Clemson and Chenjerai Kumanyika, describes itself as a podcast that “ransacks the official version of the Civil War, and takes on the history you grew up with.”
We’re already hooked. And if that dispelling of Southern mythology sounds good to you, we’ve got even better news — the podcast just took home a Peabody Award, which honors enlightening and invigorating stories in TV, radio, and online media.
Uncivil specifically took home the Peabody for their episode, ‘The Raid,’ which tells the (real life) story of “a group of ex-farmers, a terrorist from Kansas, and a schoolteacher” who “attempted the greatest covert operation of the Civil War.” The Peabody award description goes into more detail, adding:
“Public history and family stories intertwine for an imaginative retelling of the pivotal role played by 250 newly escaped slaves struggling for freedom during the Civil War in South Carolina. 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.”
Uncivil homes in on specific stories from the Civil War, many of which, for obvious reasons, have close ties to Charleston. One of the podcast’s hosts, Hitt, grew up in Charleston, and uses the city as a reference point in many episodes. And the (incredible) music in each episode is part of a collaboration with local musicians Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers.
In “The Song,” an episode about “Dixie,” also known as “Dixie’s Land” and “I Wish I Was in Dixie,” Hitt talks about the prevalence of the song in his childhood in the Lowcountry.
“So you know growing up in Charleston, SC, to me, the song was just — everywhere. It was in the ether. If you were walking down the street you might pass a, a wedding — you’d hear the song, or if someone scored a touchdown at a football game. Hell, you’d actually hear people whistling it.”
In the same episode, founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Justin Robinson, talks about playing a bluegrass festival at Boone Hall, “‘We got to the festival grounds. … We got into the property, I was asleep in the van, and I sat up straight. Because I didn’t know, at this point, I didn’t know where the gigs were — I just got in the van and shut up. And I was like, ‘Where are we?’ My spirit felt wrong. And, once we pulled up, I was like, ‘Oh!'”
Robinson and the Chocolate Drops performed “Dixie,” a song he says they’d decided to include in their shows as an act of reclamation, to an all-white audience. He says:
“Um, and so, that was like, ‘we might be doing something wrong.’ [laughs] That’s what I felt, in that moment. I was like, ‘This — the irony is not lost on me that we are at a plantation playing fiddle and banjo for an all-white audience in Charleston, South Carolina.’
And I was like, this is so palatable; they love it because it makes them feel comfortable.
I walked through the crowd to go and get something to eat from one of the concession stands, and I don’t know how many times I heard the n-word, like as I walked through the crowd.
It was soul-crushing.”
Stay up-to-date with Uncivil episodes online at uncivil.show.
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