Radical parents, raised underground, running from the FBI: Zayd Ayers Dohrn shares his family’s history and rebellion on ‘Mother Country Radicals’

Society & Culture June 9, 2022
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Listen to ‘Mother Country Radicals’

Crooked Media and Audacy present “Mother Country Radicals,” an unprecedented personal account shared 50 years after the Weather Underground bombed the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. The story recounts a family’s history and an overlooked chapter in America, hosted by playwright Zayd Ayers Dohrn. Zayd’s parents were the Weather Underground’s leaders and counter-culture outlaws, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers – radicals on the run from the FBI.

The story is filled with chaos, love, and violence of the 1970s Revolution, taking listeners on a journey from radicalization to war, and we’ll learn how Zayd was raised underground and his parents wound up on the FBI’s most-wanted list. “Mother Country Radicals” examines young people who acted on their ideals, declared war on the government, blurred lines between activism, civil disobedience, and terrorism while joining a cult-like organization.

On June 8, “Mother Country Radicals” made its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival as an “Audio Storytelling Official Selection,” and all episodes will be available to stream on Audacy beginning June 9. On other platforms, episodes will be released weekly. Stream the 10-part series from the very beginning to hear the full, personal, and politically charged narrative about this group of young activists pursuing change by any possible means.

50 years ago, the Weather Underground bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, broke cohorts out of prison, fought racism, brawled with Chicago’s riot cops, and joined forces with Black militant groups to rob banks – all efforts to build a revolution in America. The Weather Underground coined its name from a Bob Dylan lyric: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” This exemplified the movement’s era hallmarked by the sexual revolution, the destruction of bourgeois ideals, and rock n’ roll.

Zayd’s parents, Bernardine and Bill, join the podcast to share personal accounts in their own words. In this series, also tune in for interviews with Weather Underground’s members, like Jeff Jones and Kathy Boudin, as well as voices from the 1970s including Fred Hampton, Angela Davis, Asatta Shakur and more.

In “Mother Country Radicals,” Zayd searches to understand his parents’ radicalization and reveals how this shaped his life. Zayd finds out that his parents still struggle with the consequences of their actions.

“This is a story that is in my blood, but one that I never thoroughly examined until now. I wanted to
try to understand my parents, and what made them risk their own lives – and their children’s lives to try to change the world,” said Zayd. “And as I was piecing the story together, the ways in which our current political systems are haunted by old conflicts became obvious. The Weather Underground and their allies in the Black freedom movement were fighting the same systemic racism and police violence we see today. And that fight holds important lessons – lessons of both caution and inspiration – for idealistic young people today.”

Zayd investigates his personal experiences alongside his parents’ media portrayal, notorious narratives milked by conservative media outlets and politicians during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.

We recommend this podcast for fans of Judas and the Black Messiah and The Americans.

Tune in on June 9 to stream all 10 episodes on Audacy. The first 3 episodes are available on other podcast platforms, with the additional 7 episodes rolling out weekly.

Listen to ‘Mother Country Radicals’

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