Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies Leah Wright is featured in a new PBS “American Experience” documentary on the year 1964. That year, which saw the Beatles come to America and Cassius Clay become Muhammad Ali, was also when three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. It was the year when Berkeley students rose up in protest, African Americans fought back against injustice in Harlem, and Barry Goldwater’s conservative revolution took over the Republican Party. In myriad ways, 1964 was the year when Americans faced choices: between the liberalism of Lyndon Johnson or Barry Goldwater’s grassroots conservatism, between support or opposition to the civil rights movement, between an embrace of the emerging counterculture or a defense of traditional values.
“This explosive year,” Wright says in the documentary, “(was when) people were forced to say what they mean, mean what they say, and follow up on it.”
The film premieres on PBS stations on Jan. 14. Check local listings for details.