• The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Immigration Act of 1924 with Daniel Okrent

    Rebroadcast Dates: March 29-April 4, 2021

    Air Dates: October 28-November 3, 2019

    This episode of “Story in the Public Square” received the Silver award for Best Political/Commentary in Television in the 41st-Annual Telly Awards. 

    In 1924, a new American law ended the wave of immigration to this country that had begun in the 19th century.  Hundreds of thousands of southern- and eastern-European immigrants had entered the United States each year before the law, but after 1924, those numbers were reduced to a trickle.  Daniel Okrent is the author of a remarkable history of the bigotry and sham science that lay at the heart of the Immigration Act of 1924. 

    Okrent is the prize-winning author of six books, including the recently published “The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants out of America.”  His book “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” was cited by the American Historical Association as the year’s best book on American history. “Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center” was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Among his many jobs in publishing, he was corporate editor-at-large at Time Inc., and was the first public editor of the New York Times. Okrent also served on the board of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for 12 years, including a four-year term (2003-2007) as chairman, and remains a board member of the Skyscraper Museum and the Authors Guild.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Okrent credits inspiration for the title of his book, “The Guarded Gate,” to the Thomas Bailey Aldrich poem, “Unguarded Gates.” He notes the poem’s use by 20th-century anti-immigration activists, as it gave voice to their belief that the gates in America were unguarded. Okrent says his book “is about how they came to be guarded.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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1 Comment

  1. Jack Trout says: April 3, 2021 at 1:11 amReply

    Hi Jim Ludes,

    Hope you are well. I can’t tell you how grateful I am about your show. I get so emotional writing this after tonights show, the Guarded Gate. I have a tear in my eye. My Great Grandfather Sam Akselrod (Changed to Rhode, then I changed it again for marketing. 🙂 )came from Belarus in the 1890’s to the USA but we know other family members that didn’t make it and some lived out in the forests of Belarus for years to escape Russia monarchy & Romanov family rule plus the torture of Jews for no reason? As I always do my very best in honor of my family and struggles they faced, your show made me cry tonight and made me realize how very lucky I am to be here in a nice house in Mount Shasta, California. I am huge fan Jim!! I worship the ground you walk on man. You are a profit for all and all of human mankind. (Angel) I just wanted to email you and let you know how so important your show is right now. When I grew up to protect me and my outlook on life, when I asked my dad where did we come from? He would say things like; “Grandma never talked about the old country.” I never realized anything about being 51% Jewish until Trump became President and now I know more in 4 years of his presidency then I did my entire life up to that point. To me, right now in America is a lot like 1936/37 Poland, where it seems to be gearing up for more hatred or division? Your shows and history give me so much to think about as a Jewish American. I love you two hosts in the show and I am indebted for life for what you’ve done for humanity in general.

    Keep up the good work and I’ll keep kicking ass in my field and make my family, past and present proud. You got fans!!! Thank you so much Pell Center.

    Many rivers to you, Jack Trout – 530-859-8087
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Py5HgVfY4Q < Commercial I did with John Mayer 🙂
    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm12318235/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_1 < My vanity page

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