The ‘Beautiful Experiments’ Left Out of Black History


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Cultural historian Saidiya Hartman introduces Kai to the young women whose radical lives were obscured by respectability politics, in the second installment of our Future of Black History series.

The MacArthur fellow is the author of “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals,” which offers an intimate look into some of the Black lives that have been seemingly erased from the history books -- simply for not fitting into the box.

Through a series of readings, we explore the complicated role of Black intellectuals like W.E.B DuBois, the Black family and how a damaging moralism continues to inform the policing of marginalized communities, public space and American cultural politics today.

Companion listening for this episode:

The Origin Story of Black History Month” (01/31/21)

To launch our Future of Black History series, we turned our complex relationships with Black History Month to curiosity in order to uncover how a week-long celebration of Black Achievement became the month-long observance that we know today.

The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells” (05/08/20)

We look back at the life of the oft-overlooked journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, whose intrepid reporting contributed to the fight for racial injustice in America.

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

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