What's on the radio: Monday, July 4

Here’s the MPR News programming plan for Monday, July 4 on the radio and on the stream. Missed a live show? Follow the links below to find our show archives and podcast feeds.

And for daily news updates straight to your inbox every weekday morning, sign up for the MPR News a.m. newsletter.

9 a.m. — MPR News with Angela Davis

Kerri Miller talks with author David Wright Faladé about the all-Black brigade that inspired his new historical novel (TAPE)

David Wright Faladé was so captivated by historical accounts of Richard Etheridge, a former slave-turned leader of the African Brigade during the Civil War, that he wrote a book about him. “Fire on the Beach” describes Etheridge’s time serving as the head of the only all-Black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.

But Etheridge continued to tug at Faladé’s imagination, leading to his new historical novel, “Black Cloud Rising.” This time, he follows Etheridge through the Civil War, as he helps white Union troops hunt down rebel guerrillas and free enslaved people.

Host Kerri Miller says “Black Cloud Rising” is a page turner, rich with complex characters. And since the events are taken from the history book, they have much to teach us about racism today.

Join Miller and Faladé for a conversation about his book, what he learned from his historical research and how Etheridge’s complicated backstory previews race relations today.


  • David Wright Faladé is a professor of English at the University of Illinois and a fellow at the New York Public Library.

10 a.m. — 1A with Jenn White

O Say Can You Hear? (Hour 2 live with host Jenn White)

A special show on the “Star Spangled Banner.”

America’s relationship with its national anthem is complicated. Author Mark Clague says it both “echoes the past and gives voice to our present.” Clague is an author and musicologist. His new book on the history of Francis Scott Key’s most famous work is called “O Say Can You Hear.” It is an anthem that resounds with the hopes of many. It also serves witness to a country of many contradictions. There are parts we never sing anymore. 

Our guide on this historical and music journey is Joseph Horowitz. He says America’s national anthem is controversial today for three main reasons: “The first is that Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words, owned slaves. The second is that Key wrote a little-known third verse that references “hireling and slave” – and we’re not really sure what that’s about. And the third reason is that we’re scrutinizing our notion of the US as a historic “land of the free” as never before.”

An alternative anthem is one project being explored by the bass Baritone Davone Tines. A hymn to freedom, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was composed around 1900 by the brothers James Weldon and R. Rosamond Johnson. Beginning around World War I, it became known as the “Black national anthem.” Tines suggests that “Lift Every Voice” could become the American national anthem, or a catalyst towards something entirely new. He says he has grown uncomfortable singing the Star Spangled Banner. But our flag — and the anthem that celebrates it — is still there.


  • Joseph Horowitz - cultural historian, author, and music producer

  • Mark Clague - Professor of Musicology, University of Michigan

  • Davone Tines - American opera singer

  • Allen C. Guelzo - American historian and author; Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University

11 a.m. — 1A with Jenn White

Red, White And The Blues (Hour 1 Rebroadcast on tape)

Host Celeste Headlee explores the blues that grew out of the Black experience in the American South. The blues generated jazz, R&B, rock and roll, rap – virtually every piece of modern music. We’re spotlighting blues recordings selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. These recordings have been chosen for their historic, aesthetic or cultural importance to American society.

On this holiday weekend, we celebrate America’s birthday with music from John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Minnie, Jimi Hendrix and others. And we hear from legends like BB King, Angela Davis, Dan Aykroyd, Maria Muldaur, Vernon Reid and many more.

Noon —

Holiday special -- Broad Stripes, Bright Stars, and White Lies: America’s First Flag

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. At least, that’s what we were taught in school. But when historians go searching…there’s no proof to be found. So how did this story get started? In this special hour-long episode of the Smithsonian’s Sidedoor podcast, we unravel the Revolutionary history behind this vexillological tall tale. In the process, we learn that the real Betsy Ross was anything but the mild-mannered seamstress we think we know. And we discover the work of the women behind another of America’s most famous flags: the Star-Spangled Banner.