More than 23 years before Brandi Chastain took off her jersey, the women of the Yale women's crew team were taking off more than theirs. In March 1976, 19 members of the Yale women's crew team stripped naked in a college athletic director’s office to protest the team’s lack of shower facilities and changed the way that female athletes are treated on college campuses.
In the summer of 1985, the first U.S. women’s national soccer team made their debut in Italy. The ragtag group, cobbled together in less than a week and with a shoestring budget, little time to practice, and hand-me-down uniforms, struggled to keep up with their international competition. But their perseverance and their love of the game laid the groundwork for the winning team culture that fueled the championship teams of the 1990... Read more
When Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final, her iconic celebration marked the arrival of women’s soccer, both on the global sports stage and in the public imagination. With “The '99ers,” as the team is known, America had assembled a talented group of women and given them an unprecedented opportunity to succeed. But it was an opportunity that did not come eas... Read more
When Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning penalty in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final, her now iconic goal celebration marked the arrival of women’s soccer, both on the global sports stage and in the public imagination. In "Let Us Play," the latest season of The Thread, we tell the hidden story behind the greatest women’s team in American sports history. We show how Chastain’s celebration originated decad... Read more
It’s 1948, McDonald’s was unlike any burger joint seen before—a carhop-free eatery with lightning fast service, and low prices. But McDonald’s proprietors aren’t dreaming as big as the entrepreneurs traveling to California to see their groundbreaking restaurant. And for would-be burger king Keith Cramer and milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc, that’s a golden opportunity. You can hear their story on Wondery’s Business Wars. Li... Read more
What is it about The Catcher in the Rye that prompted two of the world’s most infamous assassination attempts? In Season 4 of The Thread we saw how the acquittal of President Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassin John Hinckley Jr. on grounds of insanity helped change the landscape of American criminal law. But Hinckley’s story also connects with Season 1 of The Thread and another early 1980s murder by a deranged 25-year-old.
The 2015 conviction of Aurora gunman James Holmes really begins almost two centuries earlier in England, with the attempted assassination of the king. This episode explores how the insanity defense challenges lawyers, judges and juries in their pursuit of justice, and how it speaks to things that all of us hold dear, such as moral responsibility, free will and even our own sanity.
Francis Scott Key, the pro-slavery lawyer and amateur poet who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry 200 years ago, was famously inspired by the resilient spirit of a young nation. Forty-five years later, Key’s other notable creation, his only son, Philip Barton Key II, would experience an entirely different side of American life when he was slain in 1859 by a U.S. congressman an... Read more
It was a grand time to be a rich New Yorker. The wealthy architect Stanford White was responsible for designing several iconic public, institutional and religious buildings in the city in a decadent beaux arts “American Renaissance” style, including the original Madison Square Garden, which he owned. White, more than any other man, was responsible for the look of what was quickly becoming the wealthiest city on Earth. This week, we... Read more
In 1981, on his way to look for the actress Jodi Foster at Yale, where he had been stalking her, John Hinckley Jr. stopped off in Washington, D.C., and ended up shooting U.S. President Ronald Reagan in front of the Hilton Hotel. Hinckley claimed he was trying to impress Foster, with whom he was infatuated. He later described the incident in a letter to The New York Times as “the greatest love offering in the history of the world. .... Read more
The ultimate act of revenge or the act of a woman driven so crazy by domestic violence that she could not comprehend what she was doing? It seemed crazy to raise that defense given the deliberateness of the act, the fact her husband was asleep at the time and more. And prosecutors thought the defense had no chance: They were ready to argue that Lorena was not insane, and one sign of that is that she acted out of revenge. Revenge, t... Read more
Shortly after midnight on July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, a man in dark body armor and a gas mask entered a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises with a tactical shotgun, a high-capacity assault rifle, and a sidearm. He threw a canister of tear gas into the crowd and began firing. Soon 12 were dead and 58 were wounded; young children and pregnant women were among them.
This season of The Thread, from the trial of James Hadfield in 1800 to the trial of Aurora gunman James Holmes over two centuries later, we explore six of the most high-profile murder cases in history through the lens of the controversial legal defense that unites them all: not guilty by way of insanity. The Thread examines the question: does the insanity defense represent a way of recognizing the psychological complications that u... Read more
Would Martin Luther King, Jr. have taken a knee alongside Colin Kaepernick? Is there any precedent for the protests being waged by high school students in Parkland, Florida? This special bonus episode of The Thread examines how the impact of Dr. King and the civil rights movement continues to influence nonviolent resistance today.
In the final episode of this season, we trace the path of the revolutionary idea that spread across the globe to become the dominant form of political resistance today. We also examine the role that personal psychology, and even mental illness, play in what Gandhi, King and others recognized as the secret ingredient of any nonviolent approach: empathy.
William Lloyd Garrison, one of the leading figures of the early abolitionist movement in America, was a major influence on Leo Tolstoy. Garrison believed in using “moral suasion” rather than violence to achieve social change. Armed only with his newspaper and pen, the social reformer forced America to confront the most defining moral issue in its history, kick-starting a nonviolent revolution that would change the world.
Just before his death in 1910, the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy struck up a correspondence with a young lawyer in South Africa named Mohandas Gandhi, one that would change the young Indian’s life. Today Tolstoy is best known for penning War and Peace and Anna Karenina. But the Russian writer’s biggest legacy — and gift to the world — might be his ideas on nonviolent resistance, which emerged after he had a profound spiritual crisis... Read more
The Indian lawyer and activist Mohandas Gandhi was the first leader to take up the age-old doctrines of love and nonviolence and transform them into tools of political and social resistance. In doing so, he would inspire Bayard Rustin and other activists across the world. Armed only with love, humility and disobedience, Gandhi brought the most powerful empire on earth to the bargaining table — and eventually to its knees.
The seasoned activist and Quaker Bayard Rustin was King’s mentor in nonviolence and the organizing genius behind the March on Washington in 1963. Many felt that Rustin was on his way to becoming the “American Gandhi.” There was just one problem: Rustin was gay, and as a result, would be forced to the sidelines of the civil rights struggle, and to the margins of American history.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated after leading the most influential protest movement in American history. King revolutionized the use of nonviolent resistance to combat racial injustice in the United States, but the Alabama preacher did not always believe in nonviolence. In fact, early on, King relied on armed guards for his protection until an older Quaker activist named Bayard Rustin walked into King’s hom... Read more