Sunday, July 25, 2010
I’m Steve Ember. And I’m Barbara Klein with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today we tell about Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics.
They called her “the Black Pearl,” “the Black Gazelle” and “the fastest woman in the world.” In nineteen sixty, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She was an extraordinary American athlete. She also did a lot to help young athletes succeed.
Wilma Rudolph was born in nineteen forty, in Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee. She was born too early and only weighed two kilograms. She had many illnesses when she was very young, including pneumonia and scarlet fever. She also had polio, which damaged her left leg. When she was six years old, she began to wear metal leg braces because she could not use that leg.
Wilma Rudolph was born into a very large, poor, African-American family. She was the twentieth of twenty-two children. Since she was sick most of the time, her brothers and sisters all helped to take care of her. They took turns rubbing her crippled leg every night. They also made sure she did not try to take off her leg braces. Every week, Wilma's mother drove her to a special doctor eighty kilometers away. Here, she got physical treatments to help heal her leg.
She later said: “My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”
Soon, her family’s attention and care showed results. By the time she was nine years old, she no longer needed her leg braces. Wilma was very happy, because she could now run and play like other children. When she was eleven years old, her brothers set up a basketball hoop in the backyard. After that, she played basketball every day.
As a teenager, Wilma joined the girl’s basketball team at Burt High School. C.C. Gray was the coach who supervised the team. He gave her the nickname “Skeeter.” She did very well in high school basketball. She once scored forty-nine points in one game, which broke the Tennessee state record.
Many people noted that Wilma was a very good basketball player and a very good athlete. One of these people was Ed Temple, who coached the track team of runners at Tennessee State University. Ed Temple asked C.C. Gray to organize a girl’s track team at the high school. He thought Wilma Rudolph would make a very good runner. She did very well on the new track team.
Wilma Rudolph went to her first Olympic Games when she was sixteen years old and still in high school. She competed in the nineteen fifty-six games in Melbourne, Australia. She was the youngest member of the United States team. She won a bronze medal, or third place, in the sprint relay event.
In nineteen fifty-seven, Wilma Rudolph started Tennessee State University, where she joined the track team. The coach, Ed Temple, worked very hard for the girls on the team. He drove them to track competitions and made improvements to the running track with his own money. However, he was not an easy coach. For example, he would make the members of the team run one extra time around the track for every minute they were late to practice.
Wilma Rudolph trained hard while in college. She did very well at her track competitions against teams from other colleges. In nineteen sixty, she set the world record for the fastest time in the two thousand meter event. She said: “I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened.”
That same year, Wilma Rudolph went to the Olympics again, this time in Rome, Italy. She won two gold medals -- first place -- in the one hundred meter and the two hundred meter races. She set a new Olympic record of twenty-three point two seconds for the two hundred meter dash.
Her team also won the gold medal in the four hundred meter sprint relay event, setting a world record of forty-four point five seconds. These three gold medals made her one of the most popular athletes at the Rome games. These victories made people call her the “world’s fastest woman.”
Wilma Rudolph received a lot of attention from the press and the public, but she did not forget her teammates. She said that her favorite event was the relay, because she could share the victory with her teammates Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams and Barbara Jones. All four women were from Tennessee State University.
The Associated Press named Rudolph the U.S. Female Athlete of the year. She also appeared on television many times. Sports fans in the United States and all over the world loved and respected her. She said: “The feeling of accomplishment welled up inside of me, three Olympic gold medals. I knew that was something nobody could ever take away from me, ever.”
Wilma Rudolph was a fine example for many people inside and outside the world of sports. She supported the civil rights movement -- the struggle for equality between white and black people. When she came home from the Olympics, she told the governor of Tennessee that she would not attend a celebration where white and black people were separated. As a result, her homecoming parade and dinner were the first events in her hometown of Clarksville that white people and black people were able to attend together.
After she retired from sports, Wilma Rudolph completed her education at Tennessee State University. She got her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and became a teacher. She returned to coach the track team at Burt High School. She also worked as a commentator for women’s track competitions on national television. In nineteen sixty-three she married her high school boyfriend Robert Eldridge. They had four children, but later ended their marriage.
Wilma Rudolph won many important athletic awards. She was voted into the Black Athlete’s Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. She was also voted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. In nineteen seventy-seven, she wrote a book about her life called “Wilma.” She wrote about her childhood problems and her athletic successes. NBC later made the book into a movie for television.
Rudolph said her greatest success was creating the Wilma Rudolph Foundation in nineteen eighty-one. This organization helped children in local communities to become athletes. She always wanted to help young athletes recognize how much they could succeed in their lives.
She said: “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle. And I know what struggle is. I have spent a lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman first in the world of sports so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams.”
Rudolph also influenced many athletes. One of them was another African American runner, Florence Griffith Joyner. In nineteen eighty-eight, Griffith Joyner became the second American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympics. She went on to win a total of six Olympic medals. Wilma Rudolph was very happy to see other African American female athletes succeed. She said: “I thought I’d never get to see that. Florence Griffith Joyner – every time she ran, I ran.”
Wilma Rudolph died of brain cancer in nineteen ninety-four in Nashville, Tennessee. She was fifty-four years old. She influenced athletes, African Americans and women around the world. She was an important example of how anyone can overcome barriers and make their dreams come true. Her nineteen sixty Olympics teammate, Bill Mulliken, said: "She was beautiful; she was nice, and she was the best."
This program was written by Erin Braswell and produced by Lawan Davis. I’m Barbara Klein. And I’m Steve Ember. You can learn more about famous Americans at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
This is Steve Ember. And this is Shirley Griffith with the VOA Special English program, EXPLORATIONS.
Today we tell about a famous river on the east coast of the United States, the Hudson.
The first European explorer of the New World to see the mouth of the Hudson River was Englishman John Cabot in Fourteen Ninety-Eight. Yet it was not until 1609 that a European explorer entered the river. He sailed north from the Atlantic Ocean as far as his ship could go, about 250 kilometers.
That explorer was Henry Hudson. Captain Hudson and his sailors – English and Dutch – were working for the Dutch East India Company. Like the other explorers, they were looking for the northwest passage, a way to China and India that did not exist.
At first, Captain Hudson did not know that the water he entered was a river. After all, the water flowed from the ocean in the south toward the north. The water was very salty, like the ocean. On both sides of the river, Captain Hudson saw great hills and mountains. After sailing for 250-kilometers, the ship reached the point on the river where the city of Albany, New York stands today. From that point to the north, the river was not deep enough for his ship to sail.
Hudson saw that the river did not provide a way to India and China. He had failed. He turned his ship around and sailed back to the Atlantic Ocean and then home to Holland.
When he returned to Holland, Henry Hudson told about the friendly natives and how good the land was along the river.
No one knows how long native Americans lived along the great river. The first people to settle along the Hudson were called the Algonkin Indians. They called the Hudson "the river that runs two ways," because it flows both north and south at its southern end. This is because the ocean tides push water up the river as it flows down to the south.
There were many different tribes among the Algonkins. Some of the names of these tribes were Raritan, Hackensack, Tappan, and Haverstraw. Another tribe was called Manhattan. Today, that is the name of the most important part of New York City. Manhattan is a long, thin island, with its southern end pointing into New York Bay.
When the Indians lived there, and when the Europeans first saw it, the island was green and covered with forests. They would not recognize it today. Trees and forests have been replaced by tall buildings and busy streets crowded with cars, trucks, buses, and millions of people.
For 12 years after Henry Hudson explored the river named after him, there was little interest in his discovery. Just a few ships came to Manhattan Island to trade with the Indians. In 1621, the government of Holland created the Dutch West India Company to govern this new land. Three years later, 30 Dutch families sailed on a ship from Holland to North America. They were seeking religious freedom in the New World.
Some of these people settled on Manhattan Island. They named their settlement Fort Amsterdam. The ship they sailed on continued up the Hudson River, stopping where the city of Albany is today. Eighteen families settled there. They called this place Fort Orange. Now there were two communities on the river – both of them Dutch.
The religious freedom promised by the Dutch West India Company brought other people to the Hudson River. Among them were Huguenots from France, Presbyterians from Scotland, Jews and Quakers. However, for almost 50 years – until 1664 – the Hudson River country was Dutch. The official language of the area was Dutch, as were the government, the politics and the customs.
Even today, many places along the Hudson River still have Dutch names, such as Yonkers, Peekskill, Catskill, and Rensselaer (Renn-sa-LEER).
The most famous leader of the Dutch colony in the New World was Peter Stuyvesant. The Dutch West India Company sent him to be the governor of the colony. Mr. Stuyvesant was a strong man who very quickly made the settlers understand that they must obey the laws of the colony.
Peter Stuyvesant’s government did not last long. In 1664, five English warships stopped at Fort Amsterdam, which was now called New Amsterdam. The commander of the ships ordered Governor Stuyvesant to surrender the colony to the king of England.
The English said the land was theirs because Manhattan Island had been discovered by Englishmen such as John Cabot. They also said that since Henry Hudson was an Englishman, everything he discovered belonged to the king of England. Peter Stuyvesant and the other Dutch officials returned to Holland.
The English period now began on the river. The official language became English, instead of Dutch. Also, the names of many places on the Hudson were changed. The colony of New Netherland became New York, in honor of James, the duke of York. He was the brother of England’s King Charles, the Second. To honor him further, the settlement of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island was also called New York.
For more than 100 years, the English ruled the colony of New York. During this time thousands of people came from Europe to live along the river. Many were English. However, settlers came from across Europe – Germany, France, and Holland. Even then, it seemed that New York and the Hudson River country were places where people of all nations were welcomed.
When the American Revolution began in Seventeen-Seventy-Six, British troops quickly seized control of New York. They wanted it because of its military, political, and economic importance. During the seven years of fighting, no part of the 13 American colonies saw as much military action as the Hudson River area. Both the American Revolutionary Army under George Washington, and the British Army understood that control of the Hudson River meant victory.
Some of the most famous battles of the American Revolutionary War were fought along the Hudson River. The British had more soldiers, more guns, and more bullets than the Americans did. But the Americans fought fiercely and won.
After the treaty of peace was signed in Paris in Seventeen-Eighty-Three, General Washington moved with the new government to New York City. The Hudson River now belonged to a new and free nation – the United States of America.
One of the greatest signs of progress in the newly established United States was a new kind of ship that traveled up and down the Hudson River. In 1807, a steam boat called the Clermont sailed north up the river from New York to Albany. An engineer named Robert Fulton built the boat. Soon there were many such boats traveling up and down the river, helping industry and trade to grow along the Hudson.
For many years, Americans dreamed that it would be possible to travel by water between the East and the West of the United States. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened. It was a river built by men. It went from the Hudson River near Albany west for more than 400 kilometers to the city of Buffalo, on Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. Now, ships could carry people and products from New York City west to the central part of the country, opening a way to the West.
As Hudson River transportation grew, the population along the river grew, especially in New York City. There, business and industry developed with great speed. New York became the industrial and political center of the United States. It also became one of the great cities of the world.
The real beginning of the Hudson River is near Mount Marcy, the highest of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Close to Mount Marcy, melting snow feeds a little lake named Lake Tear of the Clouds. From the lake, a small stream runs down the mountain. As it continues to flow south, other streams join it. The stream becomes the Hudson River near the town of Newcombe.
The Hudson is wild and fast for those first 250 kilometers from Lake Tear of the Clouds to Albany. Then, near Albany, the fresh water of the river meets the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean water has been carried up the river for 250 kilometers. At this point, the Hudson becomes a wide river, the same quiet river that Henry Hudson sailed on in the year 1609.
This Special English program was written by Oliver Chanler. It was directed by Paul Thompson. This is Steve Ember. And this is Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.
1. The Hudson River is located _____________ .
2. The Island of Manhattan was named after _____________ .
3. In 1624, 30 Dutch families came to Manhattan island in search of _____________.
4. _____________ was the first European to navigate the Hudson River.
5. In the 16th Century, European explorers hoped that _________________ .
6. Fresh water meets salt water in the Hudson River _________________.
7. After 1825, thanks to the _________________ , ships were able to reach the Great Lakes, and from there, the midwest.
8. Before 1664, New York was known as _________________ .
9. Whoever controlled the Hudson River would probably be victorious in the ________________ .
10. Another name for this story could be __________________ .
11. This article is mainly about __________________.
Youtube presents a beautiful film about the Hudson River:
I’m Faith Lapidus.
And I’m Doug Johnson with the VOA Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Today we tell about world famous country music performer Johnny Cash.
(MUSIC: "I Walk The Line")
That was Johnny Cash singing his first major hit record, “I Walk The Line”. It has sold more than two million copies since it was released in nineteen fifty-six.
Music industry experts say Johnny Cash recorded one thousand five hundred songs during his life. He sold more than fifty million records. He recorded not only country music, but religious songs, rock and roll, folk and blues.
Johnny Cash’s music could be as dark as the black clothes he always wore. Those songs told stories about poor people, outlaws, prisoners, coal miners, cowboys and laborers. He sang about loneliness, death, love and faith. He also sang very funny songs, like this one, “A Boy Named Sue.”
Johnny Cash was born in nineteen thirty-two in the southern state of Arkansas. His parents were poor cotton farmers. He worked in the fields alongside his parents, three brothers and two sisters.
He also listened to country music on the radio. He began writing songs and he performed on radio programs. After high school, he joined the United States Air Force. He served as a radio operator in Germany.
He returned to the United States in nineteen fifty-four and married Vivian Liberto. They moved to Memphis, Tennessee. He got a job selling kitchen equipment and went to school to learn how to be a radio announcer.
Cash formed a band with two friends and performed at local events. They began recording for Sun Records in Memphis. One of the songs Cash wrote became the first country music hit record for the company. It was “Cry, Cry, Cry.”
Johnny Cash continued to record on his own for Sun Records. He performed all across the United States and Canada. He also appeared on radio and television shows. His next big hit record sold more than one million copies. It was a hit for a second time in nineteen sixty-eight after Johnny Cash recorded it live at Folsom Prison. It was “Folsom Prison Blues.”
By nineteen fifty-eight, Johnny Cash was a successful recording artist, songwriter and singer. He was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. He performed his music in front of live audiences in the United States and in other countries. But he was often afraid to perform in front of a lot of people. He began using drugs to help him perform and quickly became dependant on the drugs. His serious drug problem caused the end of his marriage.
Johnny Cash said he took drugs regularly for seven years during the nineteen sixties. Then he would drive cars and boats too fast and get into dangerous accidents that almost killed him. He finally decided that he needed to stop taking drugs. One of his best friends, country singer June Carter, helped him through this difficult time. The Carter family is considered one of the earliest country and western singing groups.
Johnny Cash and June Carter recorded together. They won a Grammy award in nineteen sixty-eight for best country and western performance by a group. The song was “Jackson.”
Johnny Cash and June Carter were married in nineteen sixty-eight. They performed many times with the Carter family. She also helped him re-discover his Christian faith.
Years earlier, June Carter had written a song about her feelings for Johnny. His record of that song became one of his biggest hits, “Ring Of Fire.”
Johnny Cash had his own television show and also acted in movies. He published two books about his life. He won many awards, including eleven Grammy Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors. He was elected to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Johnny Cash suffered many health problems as he got older. When June Carter Cash died in May, two thousand three, his friends feared the worst. But Cash decided to continue recording.
He recorded more than fifty songs in the four months before he died on September twelfth, two thousand three, in Nashville. He was seventy-one years old.
Fans say that Johnny Cash’s music was important because it told simple stories about life and death. They say he cared about social issues and continued to express support for those who are poor and without political power. One of the last songs he recorded was one made popular by the rock and roll group Nine Inch Nails. It is called “Hurt.”
A reporter once asked Johnny Cash what he hoped people would remember about his music. Cash said he hoped people would remember that his music described the feelings of love and life. That it was different. And that it was honest.
(MUSIC: "I Walk The Line")
This Special English program was written by Nancy Steinbach. It was produced by Lawan Davis. Our studio engineer was Suleiman Tarawalay. I’m Faith Lapidus.
And I’m Doug Johnson. Join us again next week for another PEOPLE IN AMERICA program on the Voice of America.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: EXPLOATIONS -- a program in Special English by the Voice of America.
Today, Doug Johnson and Frank Oliver tell about the first airplane that flew out of the Earth's atmosphere. It was designed to test equipment and conditions for future space flights. The plane was called the X-15.
DOUG JOHNSON: The pilot of the huge B-52 bomber plane pushes a button. From under the plane's right wing, the black sharp-nosed X-15 drops free. It is eleven-and-one-half kilometers above the Earth.
Pilot Scott Crossfield is in the X-15's only seat. When he is clear of the B-52, he starts the X-15's rocket engine. And so begins the first powered flight of the experimental plane designed to take man to the edge of space.
FRANK OLIVER: The X-15 flies high over the sandy wasteland of California's Mojave Desert. Up, up it flies. After three minutes, its fuel has burned up. It is flying about two thousand kilometers an hour.
Scott Crossfield's voice tightens. His breathing becomes harder as the plane pushes against the atmosphere. At that speed, the pressure is three times the force of gravity.
Then the X-15 pushes over the top of its flight path. It settles into a long, powerless slide toward the landing field at Edwards Air Force Base.
DOUG JOHNSON: That first flight of the X-15 took place in September, nineteen fifty-nine. But the story began in the nineteen forties with the X series of experimental aircraft.
The first plane ever to fly faster than the speed of sound was the X-1 in nineteen forty-seven. United States government agencies and America's airplane industry realized then that it was possible to build an even faster plane. It would reach hypersonic speeds -- five times the speed of sound.
The first proposal for this new research vehicle, the X-15, was made in nineteen fifty-four. The space agency, Air Force and Navy jointly supported the program. They wanted a plane that could test conditions for future flights into space.
FRANK OLIVER: The project moved quickly. The North American Aviation company won the competition to design and build the plane. The design would be part aircraft and part spacecraft. The company took less than four years to produce three X-15s.
The planes were not big. They were just fifteen meters long with wings less than seven meters across. They were designed to fly at speeds up to six thousand four hundred kilometers an hour. They were designed to reach heights of eighty kilometers. Their purpose was to explore some of the problems of manned flight, during short periods, in lower space. No one had ever done that before.
DOUG JOHNSON: The X-15 project had four major goals. It would test flight conditions at the edge of Earth's atmosphere. It would leave the atmosphere briefly, then return, testing the effects of the extreme heat of re-entry. It would provide information on the controls needed in the near weightless environment of lower space. And it would answer a very important question: How would humans react to space flight?
There were new designs for the plane's rocket engine, landing equipment and the small rockets needed to move it in space. There was a new system of liquid nitrogen to keep the pilot cool and to resist the crushing force of gravity at high speeds. And there was a new fuel, a mixture of liquid ammonia and liquid oxygen.
DOUG JOHNSON: The X-15 was never designed to go into orbit. Nor could it take off from the ground. It was carried into the air by a B-52 bomber. The big B-52 carried the small X-15 under its wing. It looked a little like a mother whale swimming with its baby.
At about fifteen thousand meters, the B-52 released the X-15. After a few seconds, when the X-15 was safely away, the pilot started its rocket engine. The X-15 flew upward with unbelievable power.
FRANK OLIVER: The three X-15s were flown one hundred ninety-nine times. Each flight was a new experiment. Planning took many days. The pilot spent fifty hours in a simulator -- a copy of the plane on the ground -- preparing for his ten-minute flight.
Once the real flight began, the pilot had to remember everything he learned. He had to work quickly and exactly. All his movements were made against a force that could reach six times the power of gravity. He had to struggle to reach forward for the controls while being pushed back hard in his seat.
A delay of even one second could affect the information being collected. It could change the plane's path just enough to destroy the pilot's chance of a safe landing.
DOUG JOHNSON: The X-15 set height and speed records greater than those expected. The number three plane climbed more than one hundred seven kilometers above the Earth. The number two plane flew seven thousand two hundred thirty-two kilometers an hour. That was more than seven times the speed of sound.
FRANK OLIVER: The X-15 tested materials for space vehicles. It tested spacesuits worn later by America's astronauts. It tested instruments for controlling a vehicle in the weightlessness of space. And it proved that experienced pilots had the skills necessary to fly in space.
Twelve military and civilian test pilots flew the X-15s. A few became astronauts.
The X-15 program lasted about ten years. There were about two hundred flights. Some of the flights carried scientific experiments. One was a container on the end of the wing. It gathered dust and tiny meteoroids from the edge of space. Another was a set of special instruments that helped measure the effects of the sun's radiation on the outside of the aircraft.
DOUG JOHNSON: The only tragedy connected with the X-15 program happened in nineteen sixty-seven. The pilot was Michael Adams of the United States Air Force. It was his seventh X-15 flight.
Everything, at first, appeared to be normal. The plane reached a height of eight kilometers. It was flying more than five times the speed of sound. Then, during a test of the wings, the plane moved sharply off its flight path. It dove toward Earth at great speed, spinning rapidly out of control. Atmospheric pressure was too great for the plane. It broke apart. The pilot did not survive.
FRANK OLIVER: The X-15 made its last flight in December nineteen sixty-eight. NASA needed money for its other projects. It decided to end the X-15 program. Many space experts disagreed with the decision. They felt the X-15 could have continued to provide new information about aviation and space.
Launch of the X-15 from B 52
On the floor below these aircraft are three spacecraft command ships. One of them, the Apollo-11, traveled to the moon just seven months after the last X-15 flight. It carried the man who became the first human to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong, a former X-15 pilot.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: This Special English program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano. Your narrators were Doug Johnson and Frank Oliver. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.
1. A flight simulator is ____________________________ .
2. During the X-15 program, there were ______________________ .
3. Apollo 11's historic journey to the moon occurred _________________ .
4. The first human to stand on the moon ________________________ .
5. The first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound was the _______________ .
6. NASA's space program __________________________ .
7. Before an X-15 flies, it is first _____________________________ .
8. Not included among the exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C . is _____________________ .
9.The purpose of the X-15 program was to ________________________ .
10. "Hypersonic" means ______________________________ .
X-15 video from Internet Archive: (Sorry, this film can't be viewed in full screen mode)