Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times
The renowned oral historian turns his attention to the aspirations of "the American century."
I feel there's gonna be a change, but we're the ones gonna do it, not the government. With us there's a saying, "La esperenza muera ultima. Hope dies last." You can't lose hope. If you lose hope, you lose everything.—Jessie de la Cruz, retired farm worker
Studs Terkel's marvelous oral histories have hitherto dealt with specifics, as he puts it "the visceral stuff — the job, race, age and death." While Terkel's chosen theme here, the incandescence of hope, might at first appear elusive, it is anything but abstract. For Terkel, hope is born of activism, commitment, and the steely determination to resist.
The spirit of activism has ebbed and flooded through Terkel's venerable life. In the Great Depression of the 1930s he recalls a man swinging from a chandelier at the Astor Hotel shouting for "Social Security!" In the 1960s it was African Americans and students who advocated for equal rights and an end to maladventure overseas. And now, in a new century, young and old are joining forces on the streets to say no to war. The spark of activism is igniting the precious idea of a better world once again.
The interviews in Hope Dies Last constitute an alternative history of the "American century," forming a legacy of the indefatigable spirit that Studs has always embodied, and an inheritance for those who, by taking a stand, are making concrete the dreams of today.
Hope Dies Last is Studs Terkel's inspiring new oral history of social action in America. An alternative, more personal history of the American century, Hope Dies Last forms a legacy of the indefatigable spirit that Studs has always embodied, and an inheritance for those who, by taking a stand, are making concrete the dreams of today. For Terkel, these interviews represent a change that has taken place in the last few years of uncertainty in America. From a doctor who teaches his young students compassion, to the now-retired brigadier general who flew the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, these interviews tell us much about the power of the American dream and the force of individuals who hope for a better world. Terkel's subjects express with grace and warmth their secret hopes and dreams, combining to tell an inspiring story of optimism and persistence that resonates with the eloquence of conviction.
eISBN : 9781595585769
childbirth. We moved from house to house, trying to find a place that would take the number of children in this expanded family. There was a lot of upheaval, dislocation. There’s a sense in which my own experience growing up doesn’t really square with the optimism that I have. There was a time when within a period of about a year, we may have lived in six different places, including a car. We were five children, two adults, and a dog living in this car. It was a Packard. We didn’t have a place
After that, I had two jobs. I worked at St. Alexis Hospital as an orderly, then a surgical technician. I’d get up at six-thirty in the morning, I’d start at St. Alexis by seven-thirty, and at four-thirty I’d leave St. Alexis. By five o’clock, I’d start my evening job at the Plain Dealer, where I worked till two-thirty in the morning. I was a copy boy there. I learned about the city from being in that newsroom. This was before computers and before they sanitized, a real gritty-type journalism. In
two years over sweatshop issues on our campus, and we were all U-locked with each other by the neck in our chancellor’s office. U-locks are those bicycle locks. Over the course of the sit-in, which was five days, I called my parents twice. Once I was in the chancellor’s office at the beginning of the sit-in, when they were threatening to call in the cops and haul us up. I had this U-lock on and I picked up the phone in there and called my mom. “Hey, Mom, you’re probably going to see some stuff on
This was in Nashville. Downstairs the police had pulled out and left the students at the mercy of the mob. I saw an old woman walking up and down between the students seated and the mob that would come up and put out a cigarette on them, spit on a young woman’s neck and all. The students just sat, they didn’t protest. This old woman, I’d never seen her before, never saw her again. She was a white woman. She said, “I just came in to buy an egg poacher.” She’d go up and talk to these young white
the hope has been drained out of their bodies. The Roosevelt Hotel was a transitional hotel that housed men and women for very little rent. They closed it up about two years ago, and right now they’re rehabbing it into a high-price rent place, like $895 a month. That’s the minimum. There were a hundred and seventy people living there when they closed it. They are now homeless. They drifted off just like ashes in the wind. We never had a tracking system of where these people might be. I was