History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, March 11th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, Billy Graham holds his first integrated revival.

Plus, 55 years ago the first televised courtroom verdict in U.S. history.

EICHER: But first, 127 years ago today, a brand new sport. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin with March 11th, 1892. Two teams from the International Young Men’s Christian Association training school face off before a crowd of 200 people in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Each team has seven players, one is made up of teachers, the other of students. They have a old soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to the wall.

An article published in the Springfield Republican newspaper the next day described the game like this:

“Spectators craned their necks over the gallery railing while they watched the game of ‘basketball’…The teachers worked hard and performed wonders of agility and strength, but they were not ‘in it’ with the students, who had the advantage in science, and the score at the end was 5-1…”

The game of basketball was invented just a year earlier by James Naismith, who told the story of its humble beginnings in a 1939 radio interview. Audio from the University of Kansas archives and the Library of Congress:

NAISMITH: I blew a whistle and the first game of basketball began…The boys began tackling, and punching in the clinches. It certainly was murder…so I made up some more rules. The most important one was that there should be no running with the ball—that stopped tackling and slugging. We tried out the game with those rules, and we didn’t have one casualty. We had a fine, clean sport.

The sport spread rapidly. Within 10 years, college leagues sprouted up all across the country. It took off internationally as well: the Olympics added it as a demonstration sport in 19-04 and it became an official Olympic sport in 1936.

Next, March 15th, 1953. Billy Graham begins an evangelistic crusade in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The auditorium separates whites and blacks with a rope cordoning off the sections.

Up to this point Graham accommodated segregated revivals when in the South, but this time he demands the rope taken down. It is a first for Graham’s southern crusades.

Over time, he made integrated crusades mandatory everywhere he went—and he integrated the platform as well. Howard Jones was the first African-American evangelist to serve with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

JONES: And some said: “If you’re going to integrate your team, we will not support you. We will not give you money. So they used all types of pressure on him. But he said: “I don’t care, I’m going to stick by my guns.”

Audio courtesy of CBN.

Graham became a strong voice for civil rights, saying it was more than a social issue, but a matter of the gospel. He put it this way during his crusade in Hawaii in 1965:

GRAHAM: Now we’re having a racial problem in the United States. We are never going to basically solve any of our problems. And that’s why it’s so important that we have a great spiritual awakening in America so that men will come to love their neighbor as themselves.

And finally, March 14th, 1964:

BROWN: Ladies and gentlemen, have you reached a verdict in this case? [off mic] Yes your honor. May I have it sheriff please…

After just over two hours of deliberation, a jury returns a verdict in the case of Jack Ruby, who’s accused of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald.

FOREMAN: We the jury find the defendant guilty of murder with malice as charged in the indictment, and asses his punishment at death.

Chief attorney for the defense, Melvin Belli fought to move the trial out of Dallas before the case began. He was convinced his client could not receive a fair trial, but the judge denied his request.

After the verdict, Belli found the television cameras and immediately began arguing for a new trial.

BELLI: And the blight that is on Dallas with those 12 people who announced the death penalty in this case, they’ll make this a city of shame for ever more…

More than two years later, Belli got his wish as the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision, citing improper admission of testimony and the inability to receive a fair trial. But Jack Ruby never got his second chance. Before the retrial, he died of lung cancer at Parkland Hospital, that’s the same facility where Lee Harvey Oswald died, also where President Kennedy was pronounced dead after his assassination.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Springfield College)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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