Historic audio in the United Methodist archives from Night Call, the first national call-in radio show in America when it was launched in 1965, allows current and future generations the opportunity to hear the voices of key denominational and national civil rights leaders through the website SoundTheology.org. The nightly show, which ran from 1965-69, was produced by the United Methodist Church in conjunction with the Urban League, the National Council of Churches and other faith partners.
The one-hour program, heard on scores of radio stations across the country, was live, five nights a week, giving the nation a way to hold civil discussion, listening to varying points of view, and learning how others thought and felt.
Del Shields, the host, and callers from across the country talked with Dick Gregory, Roy Innis, Jesse Jackson, and A. D. King, as well as Chester Lewis, Ralph McGill, Nina Simone, and Andrew Young. These, and others in the Civil Rights struggle of the 60s, took the opportunity to discuss the issues and their solutions with Shields and the listeners across the country.
“The greatest figures of the Civil Rights era were those who spoke and wrote the words that explained, that exhorted, that pleaded, that prayed,” said the Rev. Mike Hickcox, who formerly worked with United Methodist Communications and as a commercial radio anchor and news director.
“The UMC’s courageous and creative radio program preserved those voices, and Sound Theology is helping with digital restoration of those old audio tapes to make the prophetic voices heard again. Ralph Abernathy, Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, and Julian Bond can be heard anytime on SoundTheology.org, the website that makes these programs available to all.”
Voices named here can be found on the Audio Programs page and on the special Civil Rights & Black History page.
Search for "Central Jurisdiction" to find 19 interviews with United Methodists who were part of the African-American Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church.
Search for "Racism / Race Relations" to find 55 audio programs that focus on dealing with racism in the United States. Most are radio interviews done by "Night Call" and "Man With the Mike", another Methodist radio program.