Richard Durham was born in rural Mississippi on September 6, 1917
and moved to Chicago with his family at the age of six. He would
go on to write and produce the groundbreaking Destination Freedom,
a radio drama that featured characters calling for equality a decade
before the Civil Rights Movement.
During the Depression, Durham found work in the radio division
of the WPA-sponsored Illinois Writers Project. He wrote for several
local shows in the early 1940s and also worked as an editor and
journalist for the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper and Ebony
After the war, Durham wrote for a weekly drama on WBBM/Chicago
called Democracy USA and created the first soap opera focused on
an African American family, Here Comes Tomorrow, for WJJD/Chicago.
From 1948 to 1950, Durham used the weekly Destination Freedom to
fight the stereotypes of African Americans in the media. His inventive
scripts highlighted the accomplishments of black leaders throughout
history, including Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and Ida B. Wells.
Durham’s recurring theme of social and economic freedom was
a revolutionary idea rarely heard on the radio at the time.
Richard Durham died on April 27, 1984.
The CBS Radio Mystery Theater was inducted into the Radio
Hall of Fame in 1990.
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