Thursday, October 21, 2010

Soupy Sales - A Funny Comedian, from VOA

BARBARA KLEIN: I’m Barbara Klein.

DOUG JOHNSON: And I’m Doug Johnson with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today, we tell about comedian Soupy Sales who made people laugh for more than forty years.


BARBARA KLEIN: Soupy Sales was an actor, and a radio and television performer. He was perhaps best known for getting hit in the face with pies.

SOUPY SALES: "I've always been a devotee of slapstick, and it sort of emphasizes sometimes jokes and you know I think everybody really deep inside would sometime or another would like to throw a pie or get hit with a pie."

BARBARA KLEIN:During the course of his career, he said he was hit with a pie twenty thousand times. He was equally well known for throwing pies at other famous people. Among those were the entertainers Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Junior and Trini Lopez. All three men were hit with pies during a nineteen sixty broadcast of “The Soupy Sales Show.”

Comedian Soupy Sales with fellow comedian Pat Cooper during a party honoring his 75th birthday at the Friar's Club in New York.
Comedian Soupy Sales with fellow comedian Pat Cooper during a party honoring his 75th birthday at the Friar's Club in New York.

Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman in nineteen twenty-six in Franklinton, North Carolina. He was the youngest of three sons born to Irving and Sadie Supman. His older brothers were nicknamed “Hambone” and “Chickenbone.” Milton became known as “Soupbone,” based on a common mispronunciation of his last name.

The nickname “Soupbone” was later changed to “Soupy.” “Sales” was added years later, based on a nineteen twenties comedian named Charles “Chic” Sale.

DOUG JOHNSON: Milton’s father died when he was five years old. His mother moved the family to Huntington, West Virginia. The young man was voted the most popular boy in high school.

Milton served in the United States Navy during World War Two. He entertained his shipmates with comedy routines broadcast over the ship’s sound system.

When he returned to West Virginia, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Marshall College in nineteen forty-nine. While attending school, he spent his evenings performing in nighttime social clubs as a comedian, dancer and singer.

Soupy Sales began his career as a scriptwriter and disc jockey who played records on the radio. He became one of the most popular radio personalities in Huntington, West Virginia. He began his television career in nineteen fifty with the show “Soupy’s Soda Shop.” It was one of the nation’s first dance shows for teenagers on television.


BARBARA KLEIN: “Soupy’s Soda Shop” was later followed by a variety show called “Club Nothing.” The show featured comedy, appearances by famous entertainers and music.

Both shows lasted less than a year. Soupy Sales was said to have left the shows for health reasons. In his words: “They got sick of me.”

Several months later he moved to Cleveland, Ohio and began another television show called “Soup’s On.” Soupy Sales received his first pie in the face on that show. That show was also cancelled. But the pie-throwing later became a regular part of Soupy Sales’ comedy act.

In nineteen fifty-three he started another television show in Detroit, Michigan. “Lunch with Soupy” became an instant success. It was the first comedy show that appealed to all ages, attracting children, young people and adults alike.

Soupy Sales would dance crazily around the stage wearing a big, funny-looking bow tie and a black top hat. Soupy Sales was known for wearing his black top hat and big, funny-looking bow ties.

Soupy Sales would dance crazily around the stage wearing a black sweater, a big, funny-looking bow tie and a black top hat. He would tell an endless string of jokes, make up funny stories and ask stupid questions.


DOUG JOHNSON: An unusual group of characters joined him on the show, including two dog puppets. Viewers could only see the dogs’ large paws. Black Tooth was known as the nicest dog in the United States. Black Tooth was famous for pulling Soupy Sales off the stage to give him loud, noisy kisses. His co-star, White Fang, was considered the meanest dog ever. White Fang was known for throwing pies.

Pookie the Lion was another show favorite, as was Hippy the Hippo. Other characters on the show included Soupy’s girlfriend, Peaches, played by Soupy Sales himself. And Philo Kvetch was a private detective who was not too smart.

The show later became known as “The Soupy Sales Show” and it was a huge success. The show moved to Los Angeles, California in nineteen fifty- nine. It became one of the city’s top rated shows before moving to New York City in nineteen sixty-four.

BARBARA KLEIN: One of the most famous broadcasts of the “The Soupy Sales Show” aired on New Year's Day, nineteen sixty-five. Soupy jokingly asked children watching the show to find where their parents kept their money. He asked them to send him the green pieces of paper with pictures of men with beards.

The comedian later talked about the incident during a comedy performance at a comedy club in New York.

SOUPY SALES: “Hey kids, I said, last night was New Year's Eve and your mom and dad were out having a good time. And it's only right cuz they work hard all year long. They’re probably still in the bedroom sleeping. I said what I want you to do is tip toe into the bedroom, but don't wake them up. And you'll probably see your mom's pocketbook on the floor and your dad's pants. But don't wake them up. I said I want you to go in your mom's pocketbook and your dad's pants and you'll see a lot of green pieces of paper with pictures of guys with beards. I said what I want you to do is take those green pieces of paper and put them in an envelope and on the envelope you write Soupy Sales.”

BARBARA KLEIN: A woman who had seen the show complained to federal communications officials. She said that Soupy Sales was urging children to steal money from their parents. The television station owners suspended him for a week. But, the incident made him even more popular with his fans. He later reported that he had received only a few real dollar bills. He said he donated the money to charity.

DOUG JOHNSON: Soupy Sales was also a huge fan of jazz. During his time in Detroit he hosted a nighttime music and comedy show called "Soupy's On." Some of the most famous jazz musicians in the world appeared on his show. Among them were Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Detroit native Miles Davis. Charlie Parker also appeared on the show. His song "Yardbird Suite" became the theme song for "Soupy's On."


BARBARA KLEIN: During his career, Soupy Sales also made regular appearances on “The Tonight Show.” And he appeared on popular television game shows. They included “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Hollywood Squares” and “The Match Game.” He also appeared on Broadway, starred in several movies and even tried his luck at music.

He released two albums in nineteen sixty-five. One was called “Spy with a Pie.” The other was “Soupy Sales Sez Do the Mouse and Other Teen Hits.” Both albums were on the Top Two Hundred Albums Chart in Billboard Magazine. His single “Do the Mouse” sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Soupy Sales created a new dance called The Mouse which he often performed on his show.

DOUG JOHNSON: In the late nineteen eighties, Soupy Sales had a radio show in New York. His new show aired between two other radio personalities known for their sometimes shocking behavior, Don Imus and Howard Stern.

In two thousand three, Soupy Sales told his life story in a book called "Soupy Sez! My Zany Life and Times." It became a best-selling autobiography.

And in two thousand five he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The comedian, actor, radio and television performer died in two thousand nine. Soupy Sales was eighty-three years old. We leave you with his song “Do the Mouse.”


BARBARA KLEIN: This program was written and produced by June Simms. I'm Barbara Klein.

DOUG JOHNSON: And I'm Doug Johnson. You can learn about other famous Americans on our website, You can also find us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Basic English Listening Midterm Exam

Henri Rousseau, Post Impressionist Painter
"Horse Attacked by Jaguar"

The teacher will supply the test booklet and the Scantron card for this test. Please, don't write on the test booklet. Write on the Scantron card only. Choose one answer, marking a, b, c, or d, whichever you think is correct. If you want to change an answer, erase the first one completely. When you're finished, return the test booklet and the Scantron card to the teacher. The teacher will correct your Scantron card and give you your results.

Text of Basic English Listening Midterm Exam
Basic English Listening Exam Script

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The Strange Disappearance" from Edcon Publishing

Everyone at the hotel had seemed friendly and helpful. Why have they changed?

A place you will read about: Paris, the capital of France.
Something you will read about: exhibition, an important show, open to the public

One day Esther Henson and her mother signed into a hotel in Paris. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Mary Henson disappeared.

The strange disappearance occurred during the famous Exhibition of 1867. From all over the world, people were crowding into Paris to relax and enjoy the sights. Because it was difficult to get a room, the Hensons had to go to an expensive hotel. When they reached their room, Mary Henson felt ill. She told her daughter, "I'll lie down and rest for a while, and then I'll feel better."

Seeing how ill her mother was, Esther became frightened. She ran downstairs and told the hotel clerk, "My mother is awfully sick. Can you get us a doctor?"

He replied, "Yes, I can send up the hotel doctor. What is your room number?"

"Room 245."

"Now I remember. You're Miss Henson. I'll send the doctor right up."

Back in Room 245, Esther found that her mother was worse. The doctor came, but he left almost immediately. Soon he returned with the hotel manager. They whispered together in a corner. Then the doctor turned to Esther. "Would you be good enough to pick up some medicine from my office? It is not far from the entrance to the hotel."

"Certainly ," she agreed. After telling her how to get there, he gave her a note for his nurse. Esther did not think much about the strange atmosphere in Room 245 then, but she remembered it later because she never saw her mother again. The doctor's nurse worked very slowly. It was nearly an hour before Esther returned to the hotel with the medicine in a blue bottle. When she walked from the entrance toward the stairs, the clerk stopped her.

"Excuse me, Miss, are you a guest in this hotel?"

She frowned in surprise. "Don't you remember? I'm Esther Henson. I'm here with my mother."

"What room, Miss?" he asked.

"Room 245," she replied. The clerk shook his head.

"I'm sorry. You must be mistaken. A French gentleman lives in Room 245."

Esther's face showed the strength of her resolution. "No, you are wrong. My mother and I are in Room 245."

She saw the manager in his office behind the desk. "Thank goodness, you're here. Tell him to let me take this medicine to my mother in Room 245."

The manager came out, looking puzzled. The clerk said quickly, "I told her that Mister
Delray lives in Room 245."

Esther set her medicine bottle on the counter. "Let me see the guest list, and that will prove that I'm right. "

The clerk handed her the list. She read slowly, careful to inspect every name. Her name was not there.

Just then the doctor came down the stairs. Esther called to him. "Oh, Doctor, how is my mother?"

He looked surprised. "Your mother?"

"Yes," said Esther. "You sent me to get medicine for her. "

"What medicine?" asked the doctor.

"Why, the medicine on the counter in the blue bottle."

The doctor shook his head, a suggestion of pity in his eyes. "I see no medicine bottle."
Esther turned quickly. The blue bottle was gone.

Now the atmosphere was very strained. No one would admit seeing the bottle. Nor would anyone admit ever seeing Mrs. Henson. Esther went to the police. Because of the Exhibition, the police were busy. They refused to accept her suggestion that the hotel people were lying. Her resolution remained strong. She got a room in another hotel for the night. In the morning, she insisted that a policeman go with her to the hotel.

The policeman questioned the manager, the clerk, and the doctor. He inspected the guest list. Then he had the manager take them to Room 245. When they knocked, a man called out, "Come in."
The manager opened the door. The man sat there in a chair, relaxing with his newspaper.

Esther's resolution melted as she inspected Room 245. "Everything is different," she admitted. "The bed. The chairs. The pictures on the wall. Even the walls are a different color." The policeman threw up his hands. "There is nothing more that I can do. "

Esther felt that there might be one final chance. She visited the office of the Englishman who represented other English people in Paris. He traveled with her to the hotel. He, too, questioned the men and inspected Room 245. Afterward, he told her, "I believe your story and I'll keep looking around here. You may as well return to England."

The Englishman never found Mrs. Henson, but he did write to Esther about two strange stories that he heard. One was that a painter had been called to the hotel and given a week's pay to work all night painting a room.

The second story was that a woman had been secretly taken from a room during the day. The Englishman wrote: "They say that she had a deadly disease. With the Exhibition on, no one wanted to risk people finding out that anyone in Paris had the terrible disease. Bad for business, you see. All the visitors would become afraid and leave. "

Esther Henson never heard anything more. The painter who did the work was never found.
And neither was Mrs. Henson.

1. Esther Henson signed into the hotel in Paris ________ .
a. with her parents
b. with her mother
c. with her husband
d. with her five cats

2. Paris was crowded in 1867 because ________ .
a. the Exhibition was going on
b. the people feared a deadly disease
c. the best doctors were in Paris
d. the hotels were not expensive

3. As soon as the Hensons were in Room 245, __________ .
a. Esther went out to see the sights
b. Esther turned on the television set
c. the manager came to their room
d. Mrs. Henson became very ill

4. The doctor sent Esther _____________ .
a. to bring his nurse
b. to get a bottle of medicine
c. to rest in the other room
d. to find the hotel clerk

5. When Esther returned to the hotel with the medicine, she was told that _________ .
a. her mother had disappeared
b. she had brought the wrong medicine
c. she was not a guest in the hotel
d. the police were looking for her

6. When the manager finally took Esther to Room 245, they found _________ .
a. a Frenchman in the room
b. an Englishman in the room
c. that nothing had been changed
d. that the missing bottle was there.

7. After Esther returned to England, _________ .
a. she saw her mother there
b. she never saw her mother again
c. she forgot all about what had happened
d. she decided that it had all been a bad

8. The people in the hotel __________ .
a. didn't know what was going on.
b. often played tricks on English visitors.
c. usually had their rooms painted at night.
d. knew what had happened to Esther's

9. Another name for this story could be ____________
a. "The Blue Bottle."
b. "The Last Train from Paris."
c. "The Mystery of Mary Henson."
d. "What to Do on Vacation."

10. This story is mainly about ____________
a. a family fight.
b. a missing woman.
c. a pleasant stay in Paris.
d. the Exhibition of 1867.

The Exhibition in 1867 from Wikipedia
Narrative of a Cabinet Maker from England who attended the Exhibition

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Day For The Workers - Edcon Publishing

Since 1882, Labor Day has been a time for parades, picnics, and speeches.

Someone you will read about: Peter J. McGuire

Something you will read about: Labor Day

Near the end of summer, we celebrate a holiday in the United States. Many workers are not at their jobs on that day. But the day is meant to remind us of all that workers have done to make our nation great. The holiday is called "Labor Day." Years ago, many people knew the strain of poor working conditions. Men, women, and young children worked for twelve or more hours a day in factories and shops. Their hours of work brought them little money. Old pictures show the sad and tired faces of the workers of that time.

One boy among the workers who would trudge to and from work each day, was Peter J. McGuire. Peter was eleven years old when he started working in a furniture factory in New York City. The money this young boy would earn was needed to help support his nine brothers and sisters and their parents. Peter's parents were unhappy about their child
leaving for work each day instead of going to school. The parents worked hard, but they never had enough money to pay the rent and to buy the food needed for their large family. Many children worked at machines to earn money for their families.

As Peter grew older, he became a carpenter. The skills needed for this job were taught to him when he started his work in the furniture factory. A group of carpenters had banded together. They hoped to win higher pay and better working conditions. Peter had great interest in the aims of the carpenters' group, and he joined them. He was able to perform many services for the members. In a few years, the carpenters chose Peter to be president of their group.

Peter was not pleased with the way most workers were treated. Many of them suffered the strain of long hours at their jobs. Many of them were not paid well. As Peter
watched tired workers trudge home from their work, he had an idea. He thought of a plan that might change the workers' lives. He would remind people in New York City that workers help keep our country strong. The workers, too, would realize how needed they were. Peter's plan was to introduce a new holiday. The day would remind everyone that workers actually help to preserve our land and its people. In September 1882, Peter announced the new holiday and called it "Labor Day."

On that September day, ten thousand workers marched through New York City. Bands played for the marching workers, who wore red, white, and blue. As the marchers paraded through the city, crowds cheered them. At the end of the march, a great picnic was held for the workers and their families. Speeches were made, food was eaten, and games were played. Peter J. McGuire's idea had been a good one. The workers and their families ·felt pride in themselves that day.

A few years later, workers from many states gathered at a meeting. They had heard about the great parade and the picnic that had been held in New York City. They, too, were in favor of a special day to honor workers. A suggestion was made that the Labor Day holiday should be introduced to other parts of the United States. People who had been at the meeting returned to their homes. They told workers in their states about what had been done in New York City.

In five states, people agreed to introduce the holiday as a reminder to everyone of the good that workers do. By 1894, more than half the states celebrated Labor Day. It was during that year that the President of the United States declared that the first Monday in September would be known as Labor Day - a national holiday.

However, more than a holiday was needed to improve the lives of workers. They had done much to preserve our nation. They had helped to make it great. Now laws were needed to actually change their working conditions. New laws were made. Children were no longer allowed to work at dangerous jobs. Working hours were shortened. Workers earned more pay for what they did.

Peter J. McGuire and others like him helped people realize that workers must be treated fairly. Many years have passed since that first Labor Day took place in New York City. Many changes have been made in factories and shops. But we still keep the custom of celebrating Labor Day with parades and speeches and picnics. We continue to do so because we know how important the workers of our nation are to us.

"A Day for the Workers", Comprehension Check

1. Years ago, many workers ______
a. spent twelve hours a day at their jobs.
b. had parades and picnics every day.
c. were paid well for the work they did.
d. had safe, comfortable working conditions.

2. Peter J. McGuire's first job was ________
a. in a shop.
b. in a furniture factory.
c. in a carpenters' group.
d. in a clothing factory.

3. Peter's parents _______
a. wanted Peter to work.
b. sent all their children to work.
c. were unhappy that Peter had to work.
d. did not work.

4. Peter learned how to be ________
a. a teacher.
b. a marcher.
c. a shopworker.
d. a carpenter.

5. Peter became the president of ________
a. a carpenters' group.
b. a marching band.
c. a furniture factory.
d. a strong nation.

6. Peter wanted all workers to know that ________
a. they were not happy.
b. they were helping the United States.
c. they should march every year.
d. holidays were important days.

7. Peter introduced the holiday called _______
a. Memorial Day.
b. Workers' Day.
c. Labor Day.
d. Flag Day.

8. The holiday was first introduced to the people of _______
a. Boston.
b. New Jersey.
c. Washington.
d. New York City.

9. Another name for this story could be ________
a. "The Beginning of a Holiday."
b. "The Worker."
c. "The City's Day."
d. "The President's Day."

10. This story is mainly about ___________
a. how children worked in factories.
b. how Peter J. McGuire helped workers.
c. what marchers wore in a parade.
d. how to get a better job.

Peter J. McGuire in Wikipedia

The History of Labor Day from Youtube

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Jose's Special Gift" from Edcon Publishing

Jose was exhausted, having worked hard since early morning. While his friends spent Saturday having fun and enjoying themselves, Jose was at his job. He saw Marie and Alice through the window as they ran laughingly across the street. Jose thought, "They must be going to the movies." Then, instead of feeling bad, a pleasant smile crossed his lips. "When I get paid tonight, I will have enough money to buy the gift."

It was hard work in the furniture store. He always came home exhausted, sometimes too tired to eat. Jose remembered that day not too long ago when he saw the sign in the window. Large letters announced: "Boy Wanted - Part-Time Work." His heart raced and he could hardly speak when he asked for the job. Now Jose felt that he had been in Mister Berger's furniture store forever.

The money was needed at home. Jose's mother was a widow. His father had died when Jose was only five. It was not easy for a widow, for Mama had to be both mother and father to her children. She did without many things to buy clothing for the children. She never complained to them, but Jose would hear her crying at night. The sound cut him like a hot knife.

Jose had two younger brothers and an older sister. At times he seemed like one of the children; at times he was like their father.

There never seemed to be enough money, since the four children always seemed to need a dollar to take to school or to buy things for class. When Jose wanted to get a job to help out, Mama said "No." Finally, he promised it would not hurt his school work, and Mama said "Yes."

Now Jose spent afternoons and Saturdays in the furniture store working for Mister Berger. He cleaned the floor and packed and unpacked each chair, sofa, and bed. He put a knob on every drawer and wheels on all the carts. He had to breathe dust and dirt as he worked. "If only the clock would move faster," he thought. Mister Berger was a tough boss. He never gave Jose a minute's rest. Jose had to get to the store on time and he could not leave a moment early. There was always something to do.

Sometimes Jose would cover scratches with a furniture crayon, using a pine color for pine wood and a maple color for maple wood. Jose liked to color wood. It was easier than putting knobs on drawers and better than having to pack and unpack or move a sofa. Anything was better than working in the hot, damp cellar.

But as time went by, Mister Berger felt a liking for the boy. "Learn all you can about furniture for you don't want to sweep floors all your life," he once said. Then he put his arm across Jose's shoulders and started to tell how sofas, tables, and beds are made. He spoke about nails and how wood is fastened. He pointed to each piece. and told the boy the name of the wood, repeating every word slowly. Soon Jose learned to recognize woods like maple, cherry, and pine.

Now it was closing time at the furniture store, and when Jose was paid, he finally had enough money. He stopped at the dress store on the way home, the one with the window filled with all kinds of dresses. He had often passed by, but tonight he would buy the best one for Mama. How happy she would be, for on Sunday she would look better than the rich women who had many fancy dresses to wear. Jose chose a dress with shiny ribbons and glittering beads on it. It was put into a handsome gift box.

Even though Jose was exhausted, he ran home. The way seemed longer than ever. He was out of breath as he raced up four flights of stairs. He put the box on the kitchen table and sang, "Happy Birthday." The surprised brothers and sister joined in. Everyone was curious to see what was in the box with the big bow.

As Mama lifted out the dress she thought, "What a funny-looking dress." Then, for a moment, she was angry that her son had spent so much money on a gift, a present she did not like and did not want. The money could have bought so many things they really needed. The childrens' shoes were worn, and Jose's pants weren't long enough for him. How they would like to have the television set repaired! It would be good to see all the stations clearly.

But in a second, as she saw the pride in her son's eyes, Mama's frown changed to a
smile. Tears fell lightly on her cheek while she pulled Jose to her and covered him with kisses.

"It is a beautiful dress, Jose, just what I really wanted. I will wear it proudly for everyone in the neighborhood to know how wonderful you are. Oh, how I wish Daddy were with us today to see this special present."

Jose forgot both the long hours in the store and seeing his friends at play while he worked. He felt joy. The world was such a warm, lovely place, for Mama was happy on her birthday.

Comprehension Check:

1. Jose got his job in the furniture store from _____
a. an ad in the newspaper.
b. his teacher.
c. a sign in the window.
d. a friend who worked in the store.

2.Jose wanted to work to earn money _____
a. for a baseball glove.
b. to quit school.
c. to rent a new apartment.
d. to help his family.

3. Jose worked in the furniture store _____ .
a. after school and on Saturdays.
b. before school and on Sundays.
c. during school hours.
d. whenever there was a school holiday.

4. One type of work that Jose did was _______ .
a. to drive the delivery truck.
b. to put knobs on drawers.
c. to sell furniture.
d. to collect money that people owed.

5. Mister Berger ______ .
a. was an easy boss.
b. felt a liking for Jose.
c. never came to the store.
d. never paid Jose on time.

6. One type of work that Jose liked was _______
a. packing furniture.
b. sweeping the floor.
c. coloring wood.
d. moving furniture.

7. Jose bought Mama a gift ______ .
a. for her birthday.
b. for her new job.
c. for Mother's Day.
d. for Christmas.

8. Jose bought Mama a fancy dress because he wanted her ______
a. to look younger.
b. to be happy.
c. to find a new husband.
d. to admire him.

9. Another name for this story could be ______
a. "Jose's Job."
b. "Working in a Furniture Store."
c. "Mama Raises a Family."
d. "Jose Shows His Love."

10. This story is mainly about ______
a. working in a furniture store.
b. a mother understanding her son's love.
c. the difficult life of a widow.
d. giving up school for a job.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Paul Bunyan, a Tall Tale" from Voice of America

ANNOUNCER: Today we tell a traditional American story called a “tall tale.” A tall tale is a story about a person who is larger than life. The descriptions in the story are exaggerated – much greater than in real life. This makes the story funny. Long ago, the people who settled in undeveloped areas in America first told tall tales. After a hard day’s work, people gathered to tell each other funny stories.

Each group of workers had its own tall tale hero. Paul Bunyan was a hero of North America’s lumberjacks, the workers who cut down trees. He was known for his strength, speed and skill. Tradition says he cleared forests from the northeastern United States to the Pacific Ocean.

Some people say Paul Bunyan was the creation of storytellers from the middle western Great Lakes area of the United States. Other people say the stories about him came from French Canada.

Early in the twentieth century, a writer prepared a collection of Paul Bunyan stories. They were included in a publication from the Red River Lumber Company in Minnesota. It is not known if the stories helped the company’s sales, but they became extremely popular.

Here is Shep O’Neal with our story about Paul Bunyan.


STORYTELLER: Many years ago, Paul Bunyan was born in the northeastern American state of Maine. His mother and father were shocked when they first saw the boy. Paul was so large at birth that five large birds had to carry him to his parents. When the boy was only a few weeks old, he weighed more than forty-five kilograms.

As a child, Paul was always hungry. His parents needed tens cows to supply milk for his meals. Before long, he ate fifty eggs and ten containers of potatoes every day.

Young Paul grew so big that his parents did not know what to do with him. Once, Paul rolled over so much in his sleep that he caused an earthquake. This angered people in the town where his parents lived. So, the government told his mother and father they would have to move him somewhere else.

Paul’s father built a wooden cradle -- a traditional bed for a baby. His parents put the cradle in waters along the coast of Maine. However, every time Paul rolled over, huge waves covered all the coastal towns. So his parents brought their son back on land. They took him into the woods. This is where he grew up.

As a boy, Paul helped his father cut down trees. Paul had the strength of many men. He also was extremely fast. He could turn off a light and then jump into his bed before the room got dark.


STORYTELLER: Maine is very cold for much of the year. One day, it started to snow. The snow covered Paul’s home and a nearby forest. However, this snow was very unusual. It was blue. The blue snow kept falling until the forest was covered.

Paul put on his snowshoes and went out to see the unusual sight. As he walked, Paul discovered an animal stuck in the snow. It was a baby ox. Paul decided to take the ox home with him. He put the animal near the fireplace. After the ox got warmer, his hair remained blue.

Paul decided to keep the blue ox and named him Babe. Babe grew very quickly. One night, Paul left him in a small building with the other animals. The next morning, the barn was gone and so was Babe. Paul searched everywhere for the animal. He found Babe calmly eating grass in a valley, with the barn still on top of his back. Babe followed Paul and grew larger every day. Every time Paul looked, Babe seemed to grow taller.

In those days, much of North America was filled with thick, green forests. Paul Bunyan could clear large wooded areas with a single stroke of his large, sharp axe.

Paul taught Babe to help with his work. Babe was very useful. For example, Paul had trouble removing trees along a road that was not straight. He decided to tie one end of the road to what remained of a tree in the ground. Paul tied the other end to Babe. Babe dug his feet in the ground and pulled with all his strength until the road became straight.


STORYTELLER: In time, Paul and Babe the Blue Ox left Maine, and moved west to look for work in other forests. Along the way, Paul dug out the Great Lakes to provide drinking water for Babe. They settled in a camp near the Onion River in the state of Minnesota.

Paul’s camp was the largest in the country. The camp was so large that a man had to have one week’s supply of food when walking from one side of the camp to the other.

Paul decided to get other lumberjacks to help with the work. His work crew became known as the Seven Axemen. Each man was more than two meters tall and weighed more than one-hundred-sixty kilograms. All of the Axemen were named Elmer. That way, they all came running whenever Paul called them.

The man who cooked for the group was named Sourdough Sam. He made everything -- except coffee -- from sourdough, a substance used in making sourdough bread.

Every Sunday, Paul and his crew ate hot cakes. Each hot cake was so large that it took five men to eat one. Paul usually had ten or more hot cakes, depending on how hungry he was. The table where the men ate was so long that a server usually drove to one end of the table and stayed the night. The server drove back in the morning, with a fresh load of food.

Paul needed someone to help with the camp’s finances. He gave the job to a man named Johnny Inkslinger. Johnny kept records of everything, including wages and the cost of feeding Babe. He sometimes used nine containers of writing fluid a day to keep such detailed records.

The camp also was home to Sport, the Reversible Dog. One of the workers accidentally cut Sport in two. The man hurried to put the dog back together, but made a mistake. He bent the animal’s back the wrong way. However, that was not a problem for Sport. He learned to run on his front legs until he was tired. Then, he turned the other way and ran on his back legs.


STORYTELLER: Big mosquitoes were a problem at the camp. The men attacked the insects with their axes and long sticks. Before long, the men put barriers around their living space. Then, Paul ordered them to get big bees to destroy the mosquitoes. But the bees married the mosquitoes, and the problem got worse. They began to produce young insects. One day, the insects’ love of sweets caused them to attack a ship that was bringing sugar to the camp. At last, the mosquitoes and bees were defeated. They ate so much sugar they could not move.

Paul always gave Babe the Blue Ox a thirty-five kilogram piece of sugar when he was good. But sometimes Babe liked to play tricks. At night, Babe would make noises and hit the ground with his feet. The men at the camp would run out of the buildings where they slept, thinking it was an earthquake.

When winter came, Babe had trouble finding enough food to eat. Snow covered everything. Ole the Blacksmith solved the problem. He made huge green sunglasses for Babe. When Babe wore the sunglasses, he thought the snow was grass. Before long, Babe was strong and healthy again.

One year, Paul’s camp was especially cold. It was so cold that the men let their facial hair grow very long. When the men spoke, their words froze in the air. Everything they said remained frozen all winter long, and did not melt until spring.

Paul Bunyan and Babe left their mark on many areas. Some people say they were responsible for creating Puget Sound in the western state of Washington. Others say Paul Bunyan and Babe cleared the trees from the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. They prepared this area for farming.

Babe the Blue Ox died in South Dakota. One story says he ate too many hot cakes. Paul buried his old friend there. Today, the burial place is known as the Black Hills.

Whatever happened to Paul Bunyan? There are lots of stories. Some people say he was last seen in Alaska, or even the Arctic Circle. Another tradition says he still returns to Minnesota every summer. It says Paul moves in and out of the woods, so few people ever know that he is there.


You have just heard the story of Paul Bunyan. It was adapted for Special English by George Grow. Your narrator was Shep O’Neal. Join us again next week for another American story, in Special English, on the Voice of America. This is Faith Lapidus.

From ELLLO, Jake tells Shirley about himself and about the myth of Paul Bunyan.

From ELLLO, Jake shares with Shirley why the myth of Paul Bunyan lives on.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"W.E.B. Dubois, African-American Teacher and Writer" from VOA

I’m Steve Ember. And I'm Sarah Long with the VOA Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Today we tell about W.E.B. Du Bois. He was an African-American writer, teacher and protest leader.


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois fought for civil rights for black people in the United States. During the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties, he was the person most responsible for the changes in conditions for black PEOPLE IN AMERICAN society. He also was responsible for changes in the way they thought about themselves.

William Du Bois was the son of free blacks who lived in a northern state. His mother was Mary Burghardt. His father was Alfred Du Bois. His parents had never been slaves. Nor were their parents. William was born into this free and independent African-American family in eighteen sixty-eight in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

William's mother felt that ability and hard work would lead to success. She urged him to seek an excellent education. In the early part of the century, it was not easy for most black people to get a good education. But William had a good experience in school. His intelligence earned him the respect of other students. He moved quickly through school.

It was in those years in school that William Du Bois learned what he later called the secret of his success. His secret, he said, was to go to bed every night at ten o'clock.

Fisk University
After high school, William decided to attend Fisk University, a college for black students in Nashville, Tennessee. He thought that going to school in a southern state would help him learn more about the life of most black Americans. Most black people lived in the South in those days.

He soon felt the effects of racial prejudice. He found that poor, uneducated white people judged themselves better than he was because they were white and he was black. From that time on, William Du Bois opposed all kinds of racial prejudice. He never missed a chance to express his opinions about race relations.


William Du Bois went to excellent colleges, Harvard University in Massachusetts and the University of Berlin in Germany. He received his doctorate degree in history from Harvard in eighteen ninety-five.

His book, "The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study," was published four years later. It was the first study of a black community in the United States. He became a professor of economics and history at Atlanta University in eighteen ninety-seven. He remained there until nineteen ten.

William Du Bois had believed that education and knowledge could help solve the race problem. But racial prejudice in the United States was causing violence. Mobs of whites killed blacks. Laws provided for separation of the races. Race riots were common.

The situation in the country made Mr. Du Bois believe that social change could happen only through protest.

Mr. Du Bois's belief in the need for protest clashed with the ideas of the most influential black leader of the time, Booker T. Washington.

Mr. Washington urged black people to accept unfair treatment for a time. He said they would improve their condition through hard work and economic gain. He believed that in this way blacks would win the respect of whites.

Mr. Du Bois attacked this way of thinking in his famous book, "The Souls of Black Folk." The book was a collection of separate pieces he had written. It was published in nineteen-oh-three.

In the very beginning of "The Souls of Black Folk" he expressed the reason he felt the book was important:

"Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line. "

Later in the book, Mr. Du Bois explained the struggle blacks, or Negroes as they then were called, faced in America:

"One ever feels his twoness -- an American, a Negro: two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideas in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. ... He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face."

W.E.B. Du Bois charged that Booker Washington's plan would not free blacks from oppression, but would continue it. The dispute between the two leaders divided blacks into two groups – the "conservative" supporters of Mr. Washington and his "extremist" opponents.

In nineteen-oh-five, Mr. Du Bois established the Niagara Movement to oppose Mr. Washington. He and other black leaders called for complete political, civil and social rights for black Americans.

The organization did not last long. Disputes among its members and a campaign against it by Booker T. Washington kept it from growing. Yet the Niagara Movement led to the creation in nineteen-oh-nine of an organization that would last: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Du Bois became director of research for the organization. He also became editor of the N.A.A.C.P. magazine, "The Crisis."

NAACP began in 1909
W.E.B. Du Bois felt that it was good for blacks to be linked through culture and spirit to the home of their ancestors. Throughout his life he was active in the Pan-African movement. Pan-Africanism was the belief that all people who came from Africa had common interests and should work together in their struggle for freedom.

Mr. Du Bois believed black Americans should support independence for African nations that were European colonies. He believed that once African nations were free of European control they could be markets for products and services made by black Americans.

He believed that blacks should develop a separate "group economy." A separate market system, he said, could be a weapon for fighting economic injustice against blacks and for improving their poor living conditions.

Mr. Du Bois also called for the development of black literature and art. He urged the readers of the N.A.A.C.P. magazine, "The Crisis," to see beauty in black.


In nineteen thirty-four, W. E. B. Du Bois resigned from his position at "The Crisis” magazine. It was during the severe economic depression in the United States. He charged that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supported the interests of successful blacks. He said the organization was not concerned with the problems of poorer blacks.

Mr. Du Bois returned to Atlanta University, where he had taught before. He remained there as a professor for the next ten years. During this period, he wrote about his involvement in both the African and the African-American struggles for freedom.

In nineteen forty-four, Mr. Du Bois returned to the N.A.A.C.P. in a research position. Four years later he left after another disagreement with the organization. He became more and more concerned about politics. He wrote:

"As...a citizen of the world as well as of the United States of America, I claim the right to know and think and tell the truth as I see it. I believe in Socialism as well as Democracy. I believe in Communism wherever and whenever men are wise and good enough to achieve it; but I do not believe that all nations will achieve it in the same way or at the same time. I despise men and nations which judge human beings by their color, religious beliefs or income. ... I hate War."

In nineteen fifty, W. E. B. Du Bois became an official of the Peace Information Center. The organization made public the work other nations were doing to support peace in the world.

The United States government accused the group of supporting the Soviet Union and charged its officials with acting as foreign agents. A federal judge found Mr. Du Bois not guilty. But most Americans continued to consider him a criminal. He was treated as if he did not exist.

Dubois Mural in Ghana
In nineteen sixty-one, at the age of ninety-two, Mr. Du Bois joined the Communist party of the United States. Then he and his second wife moved to Ghana in West Africa. He gave up his American citizenship a year later. He died in Ghana on August twenty-seventh, nineteen sixty-three.

His death was announced the next day to a huge crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of thousands of blacks and whites had gathered for the March on Washington to seek improved civil rights in the United States. W. E. B. Du Bois had helped make that march possible.


This Special English program was written by Vivian Chakarian and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Steve Ember. Listen again next week to another PEOPLE IN AMERICA program on the Voice of America.


1. W.E.B. Dubois felt that his secret of success was ___________________ .
a: to fight for the rights of black people
b: to go to bed at 10 o'clock
c: to be a good student
d: to listen to his parents

2. William Dubois came to believe that social change for African Americans could only happen with __________________ .
a: education
b: police enforcement
c: protest
d: philosophical analysis

3. In his book "The Souls of Black Folks", William Dubois says that African Americans are ___________________ .
a: divided between being black and being American
b: divided between being passive and aggressive
c: angry at whites for the wrong reasons
d: not able to see their situation objectively

4. The parents of William Dubois _________________________ .
a: had never been slaves
b: were former slaves who had escaped slavery
c: were slaves when William was born
d: were the children of former slaves

5. During the Depression, Dubois felt that the N.A.A.C.P. ____________________ .
a: supported all African Americans
b: neglected African populations in European colonies
c: only supported successful black Americans
d: was only interested in poor African Americans

6. _______________ William Dubois started the N.A.A.C.P., he had many disagreements with it over the years.
a: Instead of
b: Although
c: Because
d: In spite of

7. In 1897, William Dubois began to teach _____________ at Atlanta University.
a: Art and Literature
b: Science and History
c: Political Science and Economics
d: Economics and History

8. The dawning of the Twentieth Century means _____________________ .
a: the challenges of the Twentieth Century
b: the beginning of the Twentieth Century
c: the unknown future ahead in the Twentieth Century
d: the same problems as the Nineteenth Century

9. Brooker T. Washington __________________________ .
a: agreed with William Dubois in all respects
b: thought that blacks could improve their condition through hard work
c: believed that blacks should move back to Africa
d: believed that blacks should pressure the government for change in the laws

10. William Dubois moved to Ghana, Africa. He gave up his American citizenship in ___________________ .
a: 1961
b: 1962
c: 1950
d: 1963

Bill Moyers, WEB Dubois Documentary from Youtube.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"The American Folklife Center"

I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

We continue our series of reports about efforts to keep alive some traditional ways of doing things. Today we tell about preserving stories, experiences and beliefs of everyday people.


In the largest library in the world is a collection of voices. Voices of people telling the stories about important events in their lives. Singing songs they sang as children. Explaining the ceremonies and celebrations of their families and communities. This unusual collection is in the American Folklife Center, which is part of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C

The Folklife Center was created to collect and preserve the traditional knowledge that is passed on to others by spoken word and custom. The folklife collections include the folklore, cultural activities, traditional arts and personal histories of everyday people from the end of the 19th century to the present.

Peggy Bulger is the director of the American Folklife Center. She says the songs people sing, the stories they tell, the things they make are an important part of history. So the Folklife Center contains a historical record of a people told in their own voices, not described by political leaders, professors or writers.

In 1976, the United States Congress passed a law that created the American Folklife Center to preserve and present the history of American folklife. The materials in the Center are available to researchers at the Library of Congress and at the library’s Web site. It also provides recordings, live performances, exhibits and publications. And it trains people to do the collecting

More than four million objects are now in the collections of the American Folklife Center. Most of them are in the biggest and oldest part of the Center, which is the Archive of Folk Culture. It was established at the Library of Congress almost 80 years ago and was known for years as the Archive of American Folk Song.


In 1928, the head of the Library of Congress decided that the library should collect American folk songs sung by people as they worked and played. Robert Gordon was chosen to lead this project. He had already decided his goal in life was to collect every American folk song. He traveled around the country, recording people in their homes or communities. The recordings were made on wax cylinders, a device that Thomas Edison invented in 1877.

When John and Alan Lomax took over the job in 1932, they began collecting more than music and song. They recorded and documented personal histories. These included what people cooked, the crafts they made, and the jokes and stories passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. This is the kind of information about everyday life that often disappears through the years

Peggy Bulger says experts in folklore, music, or culture travel around the country and the world to record folklife. They work either as private individuals or for the Library of Congress or other federal and state agencies. Many of them use equipment lent to them by the Library of Congress. In return, the collectors give their sound and video recordings, research notes, papers, and photographs to the library’s collection

Through the years, the folklife collections have grown to include traditions and culture from every area of the United States. You can find almost anything in the collections, including Native American song and dance music, ancient English story songs and cowboy poetry. You can listen to the memories of ex-slaves, experiences of Italian-American wine makers and memories of boat makers in the state of Maine


Peggy Bulger says the materials in the Archive of Folk Culture are from almost every place in the world. People who come from other countries to settle in the United States bring their folklore with them. So the folklore and traditions of the immigrants become part of the collections – including those from Sudan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bosnia and Latin America. Ms. Bulger says the collections document the culture of the world as it exists today in the United States

The Archive of Folk Culture continues to grow. Individuals who have made a career of collecting folklore material want their collections to go to the Library of Congress when they retire. They want the materials to be preserved and made available to researchers in the future. For example, Ms. Bulger says that next year a folklorist who documented women’s traditions in Afghanistan in the 1960s is giving his collection to the Folklife Center.

Peggy Bulger is excited about helping native groups record and save their own traditions and folklore. Two members of the Masai tribe of Kenya will spend a week getting training at the Folklife Center. Ms. Bulger says the Masai do not want outsiders coming in to document their sacred ceremonies and songs. The Masai want to learn how to record and film themselves so they can be sure their traditions survive for future generations. And they want to have control over the use of the recordings, keeping ceremonial traditions secret, but making other information available to outsiders.


Bob Patrick is head of the Veterans History Project. The idea for the project began when United States Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin was at a family gathering. His father and his uncle started talking about their experiences in war. Representative Kind decided to make a video recording of them telling their stories to save for his children when they were older. He decided then that the memories of all men and women who served in wars are important to record and preserve.

In the year 2000, Representative Kind introduced a bill in Congress to establish the Veterans History Project. The bill passed with no opposition and was signed into law. The main purpose of the project is to collect and preserve the remembrances of people who served in all wars.

Bob Patrick says the project now has more than 50,000 individual stories, including recordings or videos of veterans telling their stories about war. The collections also include photographs, letters, and other personal materials. All the materials are kept in the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. Some of them are available through the Web site.

Mr. Patrick says many organizations and individuals volunteer to make the recordings. Retirement communities, veterans’ organizations, historical societies, libraries, and high school and college students are part of the project. The most important volunteers are family members and friends who talk to the veterans about their lives and record their memories. Mr. Patrick says that today’s technology makes that easy to do. The Veterans History project Web site has suggestions to help people who do the recordings.


Most new recordings in the American Folklife Center are in digital form, especially those made for the Veterans History Project and StoryCorps. People being recorded now are asked to give permission for their information to be shared with others through the World Wide Web at Peggy Bulger hopes that in the future more older materials will be available to researchers around the world.

Ms. Bulger says efforts by the Library of Congress to record and preserve dances, songs and stories help support traditional cultures. These efforts help young people realize the knowledge of older people is valuable. Every year, she says, more people recognize that folklife is an important part of the historical record.

Peggy Bulger says the recordings in the Archive of Folk Culture prove that voices are very powerful. Listening to someone talk about his or her life gives you so much more information, she says, than just reading about it. The growing collections of voices that are part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress are a lasting record of social and cultural life. They are a record that is truly of, by and for the people.


This program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano and produced by Dana Demange. I’m Barbara Klein.

And I’m Steve Ember. You can find out more about the American Folklife Center at our web site, Listen again next month to EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English for another program about keeping traditions alive.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Great American Labor Leaders" from VOA.


Welcome to PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. At the beginning of the twentieth century, American laborers often worked long hours for little pay. Many worked under extremely dangerous conditions. About five hundred thousand workers, however, had joined groups called labor unions, hoping to improve their situation.

Today, Rich Kleinfeldt and Sarah Long tell about five labor leaders who worked to improve conditions for American workers.


In nineteen hundred, the largest national organization of labor unions was the American Federation of Labor. Its head was Samuel Gompers. Gompers had moved to New York with his parents when he was thirteen years old. He was twenty-four when he began working for the local union of cigar makers. He worked for the labor movement for sixty years.

Samuel Gompers had helped create the A.F.L. in the late eighteen eighties. He led the organization for all but one year until his death in nineteen twenty-four. Gompers defined the purpose of the labor movement in America. He also established the method used to solve labor disputes.

Gompers thought unions should work only to increase wages, improve work conditions and stop unfair treatment of workers. He called his method pure and simple unionism.

Samuel Gompers sought immediate change for workers. He used group actions such as strikes as a way to try to force company owners to negotiate.

Gompers was criticized for going to social events with industry leaders, and for compromising too easily with employers. But Gompers believed such actions helped his main goal. He believed if workers were respected, their employers would want to make working conditions better.

Under the leadership of Samuel Gompers, the labor movement won its first small gains. For example, the federal government recognized the right of workers to organize. That happened when union representatives were part of the National War Labor Board during World War One.


John L. Lewis expanded the American labor movement with a campaign he called organizing the unorganized. Lewis was the head of the United Mine Workers of America. He also was the vice-president of the A.F.L.

In nineteen thirty-five, Lewis formed the Committee for Industrial Organization within the A.F.L. He wanted the C.I.O. to organize workers in mass production industries, such as automobile industry. The A.F.L. mainly organized unions of workers who had the same skills. But Lewis believed skilled and unskilled workers in the same industry should be organized into the same union.

Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in nineteen thirty-five. It gave workers the legal right to join unions and to negotiate with employers. John L. Lewis thought it was the right time to press the large industries to recognize workers' rights.

The A.F.L., however, decided not to support such action and expelled the unions that belonged to the C.I.O. In nineteen thirty-six, the C.I.O. began operating as another national labor organization. Lewis was its leader.

John L. Lewis was an extremely colorful and effective speaker. He had worked as a coal miner and could relate to the most terrible conditions workers faced. More than three million workers joined the C.I.O. in its first year as a separate organization. For the first time, labor won many strikes and permanent improvements in workers conditions.

For many years, presidents, members of Congress, and business leaders considered John L. Lewis the voice of labor. And, American workers saw Lewis as their hero. By the nineteen fifties, the labor movement an established part of American life.


Walter Reuther was the vice president of the C.I.O. under Lewis, and became its president in nineteen fifty-two. Reuther believed unions had a social responsibility. His ideas were partly influenced by his German father who was a socialist.

Walter Reuther was trained to make tools to cut metal. He joined the United Automobile Workers union when it first formed in nineteen thirty-five.

Walter Reuther was president of the United Auto Workers for twenty-three years beginning in nineteen forty-six. He shaped the U.A.W. into one of the most militant and forward-looking unions. He held strikes to gain increased wages for workers, but, at the same time, he expected workers to increase their rate of production. He was the first to link pay raises to productivity increases. Reuther also was greatly concerned about civil rights and the environment.

In nineteen fifty-five, Reuther helped the A.F.L. and C.I.O. re-join as one organization.

Reuther's ideas were recognized worldwide. But they also brought him enemies. He survived three murder attempts. He said: "You have to make up your mind whether you are willing to accept things as they are or whether you are willing to try to change them."


A. Philip Randolph is known for combining the labor and civil rights movements. Randolph became involved with unions in nineteen-twenty-five. A group of black workers on passenger trains asked him to organize a union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Randolph was not a laborer. He was the college educated son of a minister. He published a socialist magazine in New York City. He was known as a fighter for black rights. Randolph strongly believed that economic conditions affected rights and power for African Americans.

For twelve years, Randolph fought the Pullman Company that employed the passenger train workers. In nineteen thirty-five, Pullman finally agreed to negotiate with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Two years later, the porters' union signed the first labor agreement between a company and a black union.

A. Philip Randolph led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters for forty-three years. In nineteen fifty-seven he became vice president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

Randolph used large group protests to change work conditions. He planned marches on the capital in Washington to protest the unequal treatment of black workers by the government.

In nineteen sixty-three, Randolph planned the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At this huge peaceful gathering, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior made his famous "I have a dream" speech. Within a year the civil rights amendment passed guaranteeing equal rights for blacks and other minorities.


Cesar Chavez created the first farmers union in nineteen sixty-two. That union later became the United Farm Workers of America.

Farm workers had been considered too difficult to organize. They worked during growing seasons. Many farm workers did not speak English or were in the country illegally. Farm workers earned only a few dollars each hour. They often lived in mud shelters and had no waste removal systems. Many farm workers were children.

Cesar Chavez went to school for only eight years. But he read a lot. He was greatly influenced by the ideas of famous supporters of non-violence such as Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Chavez led his workers on marches for better pay and conditions. Workers walked hundreds of miles carrying cloth banners with the Spanish words "Viva la Causa" -- long live our cause.

Cesar Chavez created a new strike method called a boycott. People refused to buy products of a company accused of treating farm workers badly. Chavez also publicized the dangers of some farm chemicals. Cesar Chavez improved the conditions of farm workers by making their mistreatment a national issue.

Union membership has dropped sharply since its highpoint in the nineteen forties. Yet conditions for American workers continue to improve as employers realize that treating their workers well is good for business. The efforts of leaders of the American labor movement during the past one hundred years continue to improve the lives of millions of workers.


This Special English program was written by Linda Burchill and produced by Paul Thompson. The announcers were Rich Kleinfeldt and Sarah Long. I'm Faith Lapidus. Join us again next week for another PEOPLE IN AMERICA program in VOA Special English.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Susan B. Anthony" from Edcon Publishing

This famous woman spent much of her life winning rights for all people.

Susan was the fortunate daughter of a rich factory owner. She had many things that other American girls of the 1830s did not have. Susan and her five brothers and sisters had good teachers who came to their house to teach them. When Susan was old enough, she became a teacher.

Then difficult times came to America. Mr. Anthony went to see his daughter Susan, and he brought bad news with him. "We no longer have our mills," he said. "I don't know what life will be like for our family now. Things are bad in the United States, and they have had a bad effect on our business."

Susan's father closed his factory in 1837, and the family had to move. Susan felt fortunate because she was able to help her family by working as a teacher. She was a popular young woman, and many men wanted to marry her. She did not feel awkward when she told them that her answer was, "No." The life of a housewife is not for me, thought Susan.

She continued teaching and got a job at a fine school in New York State. She was earning more money than she ever had before. She was now being paid the highest amount that a woman could receive. She noticed, though, that the men teachers were being paid even more. "Why?" she asked herself. "I am working as hard as they are. Women should not be paid less than men for doing the same job. People are all the same."

Are people all the same? This was a problem that was talked about in America at that time. Some people thought that they had the right to buy other people. Many people, like Susan's parents, did not believe that one person should own another person.
Susan was at a meeting that was held in her parents' home. The people there spoke about white people owning black people, and what could be done to stop such an awful practice.

Susan wondered, "Why aren't women among the people talking?" Some women who did speak were made to feel awkward. Men would laugh at them. They told them to go back to their homes. The result was that many women did not dare to voice their thoughts.

Susan became more and more interested in helping to make all people free. She read every article she could that was written about freedom for everyone. She went to meetings where she met women who were interested in getting more rights for women. One of the women Susan met was Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Susan had heard about Mrs. Stanton and how she was trying to get the same rights for women that men had. Susan was very pleased to meet her.

"Women need their rights as much as the black people do," Mrs. Stanton told Susan. "Remember, women do not have the same rights that men do. We must see to it that women get their rights also."

Susan agreed with Mrs. Stanton. She remembered that she had not liked getting paid less than men for doing the same job they did. She wanted women to be able to speak at meetings about important things. Women should not be told to stay at home. Susan's ideas were not popular with most people.

Then there was a war in the United States of America, the Civil War. One result of the war was that President Lincoln said that all black people were free and could not be owned by others. Susan helped in getting rights for black people. She and other people spoke to the lawmakers. They asked for laws that would give everyone the same rights. Laws were written, but they gave rights only to men. Susan believed that the laws did nothing for women. The struggle for women's rights had to continue.

When she was eighty, Susan B. Anthony was still working and writing articles to help women have the same rights as men. She knew that this would happen only when women had the chance to help choose the lawmakers.

After Susan B. Anthony died, the world saw the results of her work. What she had wanted so much became a law in 1920. Since then, women in the United States have had the right to help choose the lawmakers. Other laws were needed for women to have the same rights as men. But, women were starting to win some rights.

Today, women have the rights they do because of the effect of Susan B. Anthony and people like her. Susan B. Anthony played an important part in the history of the United States of America.

1. When Susan was a child, her family _____
a. was poor.
b. was rich.
c. did not love her.
d. sent her away.

2. When Susan grew older, she became _____
a. a cook.
b. a housewife.
c. a mother.
d. a teacher.

3. When Susan worked, she was paid _____
a. less money than men doing the same job.
b. more money than men doing the same job.
c. no money.
d. every Friday.

4. Susan's parents believed that ______
a. you should be able to buy people.
b. some people should not be free.
c. people should not own other people.
d. the lawmakers were good.

5. Susan met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who ______
a. would not talk to Susan.
b. told Susan to stop fighting.
c. told Susan to speak to the lawmakers.
d. told Susan that women needed their rights.

6. During Susan's life, the United States of America _____
a. made men and women the same under the law.
b. fought the Civil War.
c. made women free.
d. sold its land.

7. Susan B. Anthony _________
a. thought that all people are the same.
b. did not like men.
c. did not like to work.
d. thought that children should work hard.

8. If Susan B. Anthony were alive today, ____
a. she would not like our clothes.
b. she would not go to school.
c. women would thank her.
d. no one would like her.

9. Another name for this story could be ____
a. "The Civil War."
b. "A Home for Susan."
c. "One Hundred Years Ago."
d. "Changing the Laws."

10. Susan B. Anthony is famous for ____
a. fighting in the Civil War.
b. helping to make all people the same under the law.
c. making the black people free.
d. helping women to get jobs.

Rescue at Sea

Life in an Ant Colony