The veterans of the civil rights movement made history, but they are eager for you to know something: They didn’t set out to be heroes or icons. On two occasions this year, these brave men and women gathered to reflect on their experiences and the legacy they're leaving — for people like me who benefited from their courage and for the kids growing up in today’s shifting world.

Some of them are names you know, some aren’t — but all of them have stories that need to be told while they're still here to tell them.

This audio series from the “Cape Up” podcast brings you the stories and reflections of some of these leaders, and their lessons on where we go from here.

Episode 1: The day Martin Luther King Jr. died

“You can only choose what it is you give your life for.”

Andrew Young, King’s chief strategist with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and others who were close to King recall the moment they heard of his assassination. Read a transcript

Episode 2: Children ‘stripped of innocence’

“No one ever said to me, Are you okay? Are you afraid? Because I was.”

A member of the Little Rock Nine and a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing both lost the illusion of safety in their young lives. Read a transcript

Episode 3: How MLK’s famous letter was smuggled out of jail

“The Letter from Birmingham Jail became immortal from this combination of very odd circumstances.”

Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King Jr.’s lawyer and occasional speechwriter, describes how he smuggled the letter out of jail. Read a transcript

Episode 4: The story of Bloody Sunday and today’s pilgrimage to Selma

“I called it good trouble. I called it necessary trouble.”

Congressman John Lewis and others who were there recall marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to protest the suppression of black votes. Read a transcript

Episode 5: Women of the civil rights movement

“The movement never would have happened had it not been for these heroic women.”

Rep. Barbara Lee and Andrew Young explain why women are so often eliminated from civil rights stories — and why that’s so wrong. Read a transcript

Episode 6: Changed minds and reconciliation

“He was the epitome of the legacy of a slave master, and this man kept my people down.”

Rep. Barbara Lee and Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of former Alabama governor George Wallace, recount how Wallace renounced his segregationist views. Read a transcript

Episode 7: How music propelled the civil rights movement

“Without songs, we couldn’t have had a movement.”

Civil rights activists describe how in jail, music was the one thing that couldn’t be taken from them — and it propelled the movement forward. Read a transcript

Episode 8: The power of nonviolent resistance

“The violence trained me to be nonviolent.”

A longtime civil rights activist and a leader from a younger generation discuss the tension that exists when discussing the most effective paths to change. Read a transcript

Episode 9: Passing the baton

“They’re doing it, and they’re making all the mistakes, and they’re doing it right.”

Civil right leaders old and young describe how activism is different today than for the leaders of the 1960s movement — but still as important. Read a transcript

Jonathan Capehart

Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues, and is host of the "Cape Up" podcast.

About this story

Hosted by Jonathan Capehart. Produced by Carol Alderman. Edited by Jessica Stahl. Design and development by Katherine Lee, Chris Rukan and Jake Crump. Photos by AP file; Charles Kelly/AP; Will Counts/AP; Bill Hudson/AP; Bettmann/Getty Images; Bill Hudson/AP; Mladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

Special thanks to the Annenberg Foundation and Sunnylands as well as the Faith and Politics Institute "for providing the bookend events that made this incredible project possible."

Originally published April 4, 2019.