Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Soul of America (02:26)


Forces currently shaping the worst parts of us are part of the American character Jon Meacham believes history provides possible lessons to address crises. (Credits)

Politics as Entertainment (03:48)

Meacham cites moments in American history that provide a sense of proportion about current questions. Sexism, xenophobia, racism, and nativism are "perennial American forces."

America's Soul (03:00)

Race, fear, anxiety, and violence are interwoven aspects of American history. The country's essence is not all good or all bad. In August 2017, White Nationalists march in Charlottesville, VA. Meacham reflects on the history of hate.

America's Story (02:38)

Meacham discusses the Jeffersonian idea that everybody gets a chance. In January 2017, Donald Trump is sworn in as president; protestors march in the streets. Meacham cites votes for women as an example of the country's ability to change

Women's Suffrage (08:04)

The women's movement begins in the Antebellum Period. Alice Paul exemplifies the "New Woman." She begins a direct campaign for voting rights but does not allow women of color to march. Picketers are arrested and sent to Occoquan Workhouse. Suffrage passes in 1919.

Meacham's Youth and Career (06:36)

Meacham grows up on Missionary Ridge. and enters journalism at age 18. He works at "The Washington Monthly" and becomes Managing Editor of "Newsweek." Meacham performs up to 100 speaking engagements a year. He cites two elements that explain the 2016 presidential election.

FDR (06:06)

The 1930s are a time of significant anxiety about a changing world; isolationist and nativist tendencies lead to crises. Franklin Delano Roosevelt embodies the idea that America can recover; he fights against fascists and carefully addresses isolationism.

Japanese American Incarceration (10:53)

The 1930s and 1940s are a time of significant partisanship. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor changes perspectives. Officials arrest members of the Japanese community. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. Gen. John DeWitt labels Japanese Americans an enemy race and they are sent to internment camps.

Reason vs. Passion (03:18)

Ambition must counter ambition. Today, Americans react to things because of where they stand, making it difficult to reasonably sort out reports. The McCarthy era contains valuable lessons.

McCarthy (07:39)

The conservative movement with ties to conspiracy theories begins after WWII. Joseph McCarthy claims Communists inundate the State Department and begins a campaign. Journalists weigh reporting what he says versus verification. Some of the greatest moments in American politics occur when people in power change their minds.

Civil Rights (09:49)

The period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement exemplifies the struggle between our worst instincts and "better angels." Experts discuss segregation, discrimination, President Kennedy, and President Johnson who pursues civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights Act passes in 1964.

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The Soul of America

3-Year Streaming Price: $179.95



Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham offers compelling insight into our troubled political reality by examining how the country dealt with historical challenges of America’s past. Based on Jon Meacham’s 2018 bestseller, The Soul of America illuminates our present-day's political reality by exploring historical challenges of the past such as the women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, McCarthyism, and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s. All were instances in which “our better angels” battled against the forces of hatred and division that are recurring themes in American life. Interweaving archival material and interviews with the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with insights from journalists, academics, and civil rights activists, the feature documentary focuses on pivotal moments in our history that reflect America’s longstanding struggles with racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Helping us to better understand the parallels between current events and their historical antecedents, The Soul of America ultimately gives hope that the lessons of the past may bring the nation closer to achieving its democratic ideals. The documentary is directed by KD Davison, produced by George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt, and executive produced by Peter Kunhardt.

Length: 77 minutes

Item#: BVL215643

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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