Broadcast: January 16, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a program in VOA Special
English about music and American life. And we answer your
This is Doug Johnson.
This week, we answer a question about an American hero from
the time of slavery. And we have music by Lenny Kravitz -- the
singer is nominated this year for another Grammy Award.
But first, we kick off our show with a dispute that a lot
of American sports fans are talking about.
The Super Bowl in the
National Football League is February first. The two teams that
do the best this season will meet in Houston to decide the
champion of the N-F-L. College football has tried to develop a
championship system like the professionals have. This effort,
however, has run into problems. Shep O'Neal explains.
|Louisiana State University
quarterback Matt Mauck jumps over Oklahoma's Gayron
Allen at the Sugar Bowl Jan. 4.
College football teams in the United States end their
season in November, then play championship games. One of the
most famous is played in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena,
California, on New Year's Day. Another is the Orange Bowl in
Miami, Florida. Still another is the Sugar Bowl in New
For years, the teams that played in "bowl" games were the
champions of groups of universities. These groups are called
conferences. For example, the two teams in the Rose Bowl are
the best from the Big Ten and the "Pac Ten" schools. The Big
Ten conference is in the middle of the country. The Pacific
Ten conference is in the far west. But bowl games have grown
over the years. There is a lot of money to be made from
broadcasting football games on television. This time there
were twenty-eight bowl games.
In the nineteen-nineties, football fans demanded that the
final bowl games be played to decide a national champion of
college football. So bowl officials ended up with the Bowl
Championship Series. In this system, experts and computers
decide which top teams play in which games. The idea is to
have the two teams considered to be the strongest in the
nation play for the national championship.
This year, the Sugar Bowl was the national championship
game. Louisiana State University won. But, in the media, and
in public opinion, L-S-U split the championship with the
University of Southern California. That highly rated team won
the Rose Bowl.
A lot of people say another game should be played to decide
the national champion. Others say it will hurt the student
athletes to extend the football season. The Gateway computer
company even offered thirty-million dollars in scholarship
money for a game between L-S-U and Southern California. But
national college athletic officials rejected the idea.
Bowl Championship Series officials say they hope to avoid
disagreements in the future. They plan to change the computer
system so that it weighs the opinions of the humans more than
it does now.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Akwa Ibom
State, in Nigeria. Samuel Bassey asks who was Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman was an
African-American woman who fought slavery and oppression.
Stories about her say she was born in eighteen-twenty. No one
We do know that Harriet Tubman helped many people escape
from slavery through the Underground Railroad. This was a
transportation system, but not in the traditional sense. It
was an organized effort by people to help slaves from the
Southern states get to areas that banned slavery.
Her parents belonged to a farmer in Maryland. Slaves lived
with the fear that they could be sold at any time. Families
often were separated.
Harriet married a free black man named John Tubman in
eighteen-forty-four. Yet she remained a slave. She decided to
escape. In eighteen-forty-nine, the farmer who owned her and
her family died. Harriet Tubman heard that she was to be sold
immediately. She ran to the home of a white woman who had
offered to help.
This woman told her how to reach another home where she
could hide. Harriet Tubman went from place to place this way.
Each place was a little closer to the northern states where
slavery was illegal. This is how the Underground Railroad
operated. Finally, she crossed the border into the northern
state of Pennsylvania.
But Harriet Tubman did not forget the slaves in Maryland.
During the next ten years, she led a much expanded Underground
Railroad. She freed her parents and other family members. She
traveled back and forth eighteen times. She helped
three-hundred slaves escape.
Harriet Tubman found another way to fight slavery after the
Civil War began in eighteen-sixty-one. She went into the
Southern states to spy for the North. She also helped people
as a nurse.
After the North won the Civil War, Harriet Tubman settled
in New York state. She traveled and gave speeches to raise
money for better education for black Americans. She also
worked for women's rights and improved housing. And, she
sought help for older adults who had been slaves.
Harriet Tubman died in nineteen-thirteen. By that time, she
was recognized as an American hero.
The American music industry
will present its Grammy Awards on February eighth in Los
Angeles. Shirley Griffith tells about one of the nominees this
year for best male rock vocal performance.
Lenny Kravitz was born in New York City in
nineteen-sixty-four. He comes from a show business family: His
father was a television producer; his mother, an actress. He
taught himself to play the piano, bass and drums as a child.
Lenny Kravitz also writes a lot of his own songs. You might
remember this one from nineteen-ninety-eight, which earned him
The song is "Fly Away." It was on the fifth album Lenny
Kravitz recorded; the album is called "Five." A song included
on "Five" as a bonus track also won a Grammy. It was used in
an "Austin Powers" movie: his version of "American Woman."
The newest album from Lenny Kravitz is called "Lenny." It
contains the song that earned him a Grammy nomination this
year. We leave you with "If I Could Fall in Love."
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC.
Join us again next week for VOA's radio magazine in Special
And remember to send your questions about American life to
email@example.com. Be sure to include your name and mailing
address. If we use your question, we'll send you a gift. Our
postal address is American Mosaic, VOA Special English,
Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.
This program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Jerilyn
Watson. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was