People's History


A documentary podcast series about social history and struggle. Each six-episode season covers one story, told from the viewpoint of working-class people.

Hear our trailer for "The Point":

The Point

Rebellion and Resistance in Boston Public Housing

Episode One, "Placement"

Tenants form a blockade on Mount Vernon Street
Mothers at the Columbia Point project form a blockade to stop dump trucks carrying waste from urban renewal on Mount Vernon Street in Dorchester, 1962. (Boston Herald)

At a new public housing project in Boston, mothers organize to try and close the city dump. Meanwhile, a Black freedom movement emerges across Northern cities. [transcript | mp3]

Episode Two, "Grove Hall"

Members of the Mothers for Adequate Welfare, known as "MAW," gather at a community space at the Columbia Point housing project. (WGBH)

During a period of urban rebellion, welfare rights advocates in Boston public housing use militant tactics to get services they are owed. [transcript | mp3]

Episode Three, "Rent Strike"

South End protests
Occupations and squats were common in the South End during the late 60s and early 70s. At "Tent City," Mel King, Chuck Turner, and others occupied a cleared lot in protest of plans for a parking lot to be built there. (Northeastern University)

Tenants take their growing dissatisfaction and aim it at their landlord, the Boston Housing Authority. [transcript | mp3]

Episode Four, "Free Breakfast"

Free Breakfast scene
Free Breakfast for School Children, a "survival program" led by the Black Panther Party, combined service to the hungry with a revolutionary program of socialism and self-determination. (Stephen Shames)

Sisters Angie Irving and Linda Wade bring the Black Panthers to Columbia Point. [transcript | mp3]

Episode Five, "Carson Beach"

Birdseye view of Columbia Point project
During the 1970s, Columbia Point was subjected to white racism, police brutality, and extreme neglect. (Spencer Grant)

In the turmoil of busing, Betty Ann Jones advocates armed defense while Betty Washington and Dorothy Haskins lead a wade-in to protest segregation. [transcript | mp3]

Episode Six, "False Hope"

children at play at Columbia Point circa 1987
Children play outside circa 1987, the last year of Columbia Point before demolition. (Linda Swartz)

Columbia Point tenants face new management and a private police force. [transcript coming soon... | mp3]

We Will Remember

A new story from the Chunka Luta Network. Hear the trailer below...

AIM activists stationed on a rooftop at Wounded Knee, SD
AIM activists at Pine Ridge stand guard during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, a village where, in 1890, the U.S. Army killed over 300 Lakota people. (Akwesasne Notes, Voices From Wounded Knee, 1974)


People's History is a podcast that explores social history from the perspective of the working class.

Our first season, The Point, takes place in Boston and follows tenants in public housing through the urban rebellions of the 1960s, busing in the 70s, into the Clinton era.

We investigate these events from the lens of one community: Columbia Point, once the largest project in New England. Built on an isolated landfill site next to the Boston city dump, it was the site of major organizing, from welfare rights to a Free Breakfast for Children program. It was also the first federal public housing project to be sold off and redeveloped as private "mixed-income" development (and was a model for the federal policy HOPE VI).

This is the untold story of the tenant struggles in and around Boston public housing. It’s a story about working people—mainly Black mothers—standing up to the mayor’s office, leading sit-ins to get the services they were owed, fighting evictions, and organizing for a better life.

Check out our sister podcast, a people's anthology. Season one presents related texts and speeches, from Claudia Jones to the Combahee River Collective. A collaboration with Boston Review.


Alejandro Ramirez is an associate editor of Nashville Scene, and grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He is the former editor of Spare Change News in Boston. Conor Gillies grew up in Maine and studied history at Boston University. Formerly a producer for Radio Open Source, he now produces A World to Win and Jacobin Long Reads.

Co-produced by Alison Bruzek, Rehanna Fernandez Nuñez, Rosie Gillies, and Qainat Kahn with help from Ed Paget, Patrick King, and Caitlin Rose. Editing help from Ben Shapiro and Alissa Quart. Theme music by Marisa Anderson, original score by Visitor, which is a project of Liz Harris and Ilyas Ahmed.

Header art by Seena Mavaddat. Detail from "Community Power," copperplate print, 2019.

People's History Podcast is an independent podcast, not associated with A People’s History of the United States, 1492 - Present, or related projects.