This week on From the Vault we present the conclusion of Inquest at Christiana, a radio drama that exemplifies the genre and is a testament to Pacifica Radio’s embrace of radio arts. Written by Jon Katz, this play was adapted from the historical documents of the fugitive slave resistance at Christiana, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1851 – the so-called “Christiana Riot.” Heard in the cast are Lois Adler, Jay Bonnell, Crystal Field, Brannon Hall, Walter Jones, Frank MacFie, Marvin Peisner, and Ashton Young. Folk songs are performed by John Bassette. The Technical Director is Edgar Walker. Produced and directed by Jon Katz, this production was first broadcast on February 11, 1968 a week prior to Negro History Week (now Black History Month).
John Bassette, who is heard performing folk songs throughout Inquest at Christiana, appears in another Pacifica Radio Archives recording – the storied “Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Central Park,” where on April 5th, 1968, Bassette found his way on stage with Pete Seeger and Ossie Davis for an impromptu performance. Selections from this historic audio featuring Bassette are featured in the second half of this episode.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners.