Saturday, November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel (1912-2008)

Author Studs Terkel – an old-school Chicago leftist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian – died yesterday at the age of 96. (The obituary is here.)

One measure of Terkel’s liberalism was his interest in African-American culture... a culture which, for much of his life, was nearly invisible to white America.

While a disc jockey in Chicago, Terkel championed the career of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

And she returned the favor.

Embedded below is a 14-minute excerpt of Studs Terkel’s 2005 interview with Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!”

This fascinating conversation rambles from Mahalia Jackson to the early days of Chicago television to McCarthyism to George W. Bush. I promise you will enjoy it.


bklyn6 said...


I ordered "Working" a few months ago but it never arrived. After learning of his death, I placed another order for it this morning.

I listened to that interview on Democracy Now a while ago. I didn't know that anecdote about Mahalia Jackson.

R.I.P. Mr. Terkel.

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

Studs was such a great talker ... he'll go down as one of the great listeners, but he was a great talker, as well ... that clip shows how perfectly his garrulous skills matched up with the general tendency as we get older to ramble a bit. No one this side of Prof. Irwin Corey makes so much wonder out of rambling. The smile on Amy Goodman's face says a lot ... and she's a smart enough interviewer on her own that when Studs says there's a funny story to tell, and then pauses, she says "Tell it!"

Kellybelle said...

He was cool. In one of the tributes to him I heard how he used to say America had national Alzheimers. How we forget where we've come from. I wish he'd had time to record every person who had ever been denied the right to vote so we could play it for these children running around free to vote and too damn lazy to do it.

Anonymous said...

Read his book "Race" -- way ahead of its time, in ambition if not necessarily content. A great and courageous man.

His son said on the radio that he was hoping to live until the election. What a shame he didn't make it.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Yah. Too bad he didn't live to see America elect its first socialist president!


Invisible Woman said...

Used to read his books in middle/high school. Now I find out he was still alive when he dies-thought he was gone long ago!

Really sorry he didn't get to see the election as well.

Undercover Black Man said...

The only book of his I ever bought was "Race." Every few years I mumble to myself, "I really ought to buy 'Working'"... and then don't.

Oh well. To use a tired old Chicago joke... "Just because Mr. Terkel is dead doesn't mean he can't vote."

Invisible Woman said...

@UBM: haha!!

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I saw this interview when it first aired. I recall being even fascinated by Studs than I had been up to that point. Very cool dude.