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Loud As The Rolling Sea presents the stories of Black people's everyday lives, past and present, in Yellow Springs.

Introducing Loud As The Rolling Sea: A New Series

Dr Kevin McGruder will be our host for a new series on WYSO starting next week called "Loud as the Rolling Sea.”
Andy Snow
Dr Kevin McGruder will be our host for a new series on WYSO starting next week called "Loud as the Rolling Sea.”

The murder of George Floyd last year created a lot of soul searching around the country and here at WYSO. It made us think harder about the role the station should play in fighting racism in the Miami Valley. And so we will bring the voices of more people of color to the airwaves so we can see racism - past and present - through their eyes and hear their ideas about our shared future. In the next month, you're going to hear stories that began as a community oral history project 10 years ago in Yellow Springs, when citizens came together to gather the stories of the Civil Rights generation of activists, both Black and white, who were born in the 20s and 30s. Their stories have a lot to teach the activists of today.

"For those young people, hearing from elders who were saying the same thing in different language - most of these people who we interviewed most grew up in the South and they grew up in households where their parents were telling them that their lives matter," says Dr. Kevin McGruder, professor of American history at Antioch College.

"....and so when they went out in the world, that armed them. That even if they were called the n-word or other things, yes, that hurts, but they didn't internalize it and think that they had to live in a negative way, because that is what that word is meant to try to do. It's kind of a universal message. This, you know, even though Black Lives Matter is the contemporary version of it, it's a message that Black parents have been telling children for hundreds of years in different ways. And so they'll hear that in these stories, because just persevering in some ways is a way of saying, my life matters enough that I want to live it."

African-Americans have lived in Yellow Springs for nearly 200 years. The village has tried and is still trying to be a haven for them. The oral history interviews you'll hear in the coming weeks should help explain how race relations have unfolded here. It's a complex, important and somewhat unusual collection of interviews, says Dr. McGruder, because the life stories of African-Americans are not always told as part of America's story.

"Often our stories do not appear in the documents unless we're famous or in the past, unless we had something negative happened to us or involved in something. Often we are not seen as just everyday people who are living our lives and having triumphs and tragedies. So there's a way that an oral history humanizes people in a way that a history book account rarely does for African-Americans."

Dr. McGruder chose to come to Antioch College and live in Yellow Springs, in part because of its history of welcoming Black people, even though the Black population has been in decline. And the more he got involved in village life, the more he learned about the rich legacy of cooperation between the races.

"I think this series can be another way of letting people know about what's here, for black people who are thinking about moving to this area and even black people are already here. The radio is a good way of introducing people to stories that they might not be looking for."

Dr. Kevin McGruder will be our host for a new series on WYSO starting next week called "Loud as the Rolling Sea.”

Loud As the Rolling Sea is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO. Funding for this project comes from The Yellow Springs Community Foundation, the Yellow Springs Brewery and from Rick and Chris Kristensen, RE/MAX Victory + Affiliates in Yellow Springs.

Neenah Ellis has been a radio producer most of her life. She began her career at a small commercial station in northern Indiana and later worked as a producer for National Public Radio in Washington, DC. She came to WYSO in 2009 and served as General Manager until she became the Executive Director of The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices where she works with her colleagues to train and support local producers and has a chance to be a radio producer again. She is also the author of a New York Times best-seller called “If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians.”