Independent Lens


Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

A fiercely intelligent activist who became a wealthy recluse in her later years, Marion Stokes was dedicated to furthering and protecting the truth — so much so that she recorded American television 24 hours a day for over 30 years. Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project peels back the curtain on her life, through a mix of Stokes’ archive of recordings and interviews with those who knew her best.

AIRED: June 15, 2020 | 1:26:05

[light music]

- Marion Stokes recorded television

24 hours a day for 30 years.

- She became aware of the power of television

to misinform people.

Taping these programs was a form of activism.

announcer: Filmmaker Matt Wolf brings us the remarkable story

of one woman's efforts to expose media bias.

- And I think maybe a re-examination

of what is normal is in order at this point.

- What's the purpose of continually taping?

I think it was for the betterment of mankind.

She was very, very much ahead of her time.

She hit record, and she never stopped.

announcer: "Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project,"

now, only on "Independent Lens."

[stirring music]

[light music]

- At $5 a barrel less-- - Water was 10 feet--

- Stretch it out.

- First ball-- - But if we take away--

- Led to this-- - Now to the protest--

- No, no, no! - [people shout indistinctly]

[man speaking indistinctly]

- Peruvian jetliner-- - 600-piece--

- A gay man was shot to death--

[indistinct chatter]

- Only 72 seconds following liftoff,

the tragic explosion.

The "Challenger" was engulfed in flames.

- In Iran, the war is a holy crusade

promoted on television with martial music and--

- Ayatollah is in a war.

- People always ask, "Why?

Why did she do it?"

And to understand that, you really need to know

who my mother was and the life she lived.

- I know her life is strange

and questionable by many.

But I know she was here for a purpose.

- A lot of craziness produces a lot of brilliance,

and I think there's something kind of brilliant

about what Marion Stokes did.

Whatever motivated her,

this material needed to wind up

in a situation where it could be shared.

- Do expect it to tighten as more and more Dole supporters

sort of come out of the closet.

- Taping these programs for my mother

was a form of activism.

She wanted people to be able to seek the truth

and check facts.

She thought that everybody needed to have access

to knowledge to make good decisions,

to have the real truth.

- How useful is it at making life better,

making my life better

and making life for other people better?

Now, if it is useful... - Mm-hmm.

- If it's a useful correlation,

a way of looking at things,

if it enhances my freedom because I can make choices...

Rather than be buffeted like a leaf in the wind,

but I can make choices, if it enhances my freedom,

then I don't have to see

the physical cause of why it works.

- I'm sure she came to value

what was coming through the screens

more than the kind of very problematic,

messy stuff that was happening,

you know, in her real life.

[car horn honks]

- I was Mrs. Stokes' chauffeur in Philadelphia.

She lived in the richest part of the city.

The square itself was surrounded

by very expensive apartment buildings.

It was the number-one address to have in Philadelphia.

- My dad had a construction company,

and we did a lot of work in Barclay,

and that's how we ran into the Stokes,

and they had us do their renovations.

Very mysterious and very private.

[knock at door]

Her husband, John, would come out and talk to me,

and I would speak to Marion through the door.

She would open the door maybe an inch and talk to me.

I would say it was three or four months

before I actually met her.

[indistinct chatter on TV]

We were getting close to finishing their place,

and they said they would like me to start working for them,

helping them do things.

[chatter continues]

I was kind of shocked because, you know, I'd never...

I guess, been with someone that had so much stuff.

They had enormous amount of furniture and archives,

magazines, books.

She read about 11 newspapers a day,

and I don't think she ever threw one out.

- When I first got there,

Ms. Stokes didn't really talk to me.

She introduced herself.

She laid down what she wanted, what she expected of me,

but it was no conversation.

She would have the tapes going on different TVs

throughout the apartment.

So every TV she couldn't get to.

So certain TVs, I would change the tapes,

and Frank also had TVs in the back that he was taping from,

so it was a project for everybody to be doing.

- Now, there were some codes of conduct

that were made very clear to me early on--

no talking.

It was like "Driving Miss Daisy"

in reverse.

Everything was absolutely ritualized.

- We had to make sure there was no one in the vicinity

when we went out the front doors.

I wasn't allowed to touch the car,

as far as open any doors.

That was Richard's job.

- You know, she would sweep--

shiny black car like a film star.

[car door closes]

- I do have a memory of demonstrations,

one of which garnered quite a kind of hostile response.

There were some postcards sent to my mother saying,

"You know, well, if you don't like it here, go to Cuba."

She was the Philadelphia chairman for the Fair Play

for Cuba Committee,

an organization started by the Communist Party

to raise awareness about the Cuban Revolution.

At her core, she was motivated by a belief in human freedom.

They spent some time in Mexico trying to get in.

Didn't get in.

I found a journal entry from my mother

from around that time where she was fed up with something,

and she said, "I'm going back to the United States

and taking the baby."

So I think there was a lot of tension.

My mother was fired from her job as a librarian,

and I'm pretty sure it had to do with her being a Communist.

You know, she was definitely spied on by the FBI,

and we know that she had a file, and, you know,

there are pictures of her and reports

from networks of informants and that kind of stuff.

She was justified in feeling being watched.

For personality reasons,

I think my mother kind of overdid it

and continued to overdo it until the day of her death.

She was enormously controlling.

She made it very difficult on my father

when he would come to visit.

So saw him less and less.

[dramatic music]

Tore my heart.

[fantastical music]

- Captain's log, stardate 5784.2.

We are responding

to desperate distress calls from an unknown--

- My mother was a huge fan

of the original "Star Trek" series.

- Unable to account for this,

since he reported no signs of life on the planet.

- The themes that she really liked

were that Earth had actually sorted its problems out.

There was the United Federation of Planets,

that there was this kind of multiracial,

multinational crew that worked very well together,

that the mission of this incredibly well-armed ship

was exploration, not warfare.

You know, it was basically kind of televised socialism,

and she loved that whole thing.

[tape clicks, whirs]

The first Betamax recorder I remember was in late '75.

And that was the first one. It was used sparingly.

She didn't start recording the news immediately.

She liked situation comedies...

- Where are you going? - Where am I going?

Where else can I go? I'm going over here, sit down.


Do what I usually do-- look at TV.

- Science documentaries...

- Snakes, lizards have a--

- These kind of high-impact current events.

- First, it gathers information, intelligence.

There's a second kind of thing that the CIA does,

and that's take secret action

to change what goes on in another country.

This could involve giving money

to help a candidate win an election.

It might involve aiding in the overthrow of a government

which we think is a threat to us.

It could even mean arranging or trying to arrange

an assassination, as in the case of Fidel Castro.

- Your newspapers, radio, television,

motion pictures are under state control.

No dissent or opposition is allowed in the public media.

- One of Lenin's principles was that the method

and the tenor through which you take

your daily news colors your view of the world.

- Material things do influence our emotions,

and we do react in an emotional way

to various symbols, colors, and so on,

and some of these things are chosen.

They're decided by somebody.

Now, it seems to me--

- She became aware of the power of television

to inform or misinform people

when she started working on a television program

in the late 1960s.

It was called "Input."

It was a current-affairs discussion program

by the local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia.

They would assemble experts on a topic--

eugenics, Native American rights,

race relations, prisoners' rights--

with perspectives all around the situations

and have it very publicly available

so that people would be able to form their own opinions.

- Completely eradicate--

- ♪ Walking down death row

♪ I sang for three men destined for the chair ♪

- Marion, how do you view the last nine programs,

as we've sought to make this

an open community type of TV presentation?

- Well, I find some people are certainly grappling with

and not quite understanding how it is that we managed

to get these people together in the first place to talk

and not understanding the concept

of an open community of trust

which is big enough

and open enough to include all the points of view

expressed within a context of respect.

- I've been invited to openness by those who really are saying

by that, "I want to open you so that you'll be able to see

that I'm right and you're wrong."

- Mm-hmm. Most people feel that their viewpoint

is being heard, but they find themselves unable

to accept the open expression of the other viewpoint.

- The power of mass media to affect public opinion

was something that she became very conscious of,

and she was aware of how the raw story gets filtered

by the predilections of the people who are producing it.

- I think there should definitely be controls

of other kinds as well,

of material means of manipulating mind and emotion,

and I think there are so many examples in daily life

that people simply don't recognize.

[epic music]

- From ABC in New York,

this is "World News Tonight, Sunday,"

with Sam Donaldson.

- Good evening. The US embassy in Tehran has been invaded

and occupied by Iranian students.

The Americans inside have been taken prisoner

and, according to a student spokesman,

will be held as hostages until the deposed Shah

is returned from the United States

where he's receiving medical treatment for cancer.

[indistinct shouting]

- While the Iranians burned an American flag

in front of the embassy, they said the takeover

had the express blessing of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

- My mother was very suspicious

of the official stories

about the Iranian hostage crisis,

and she became obsessed with the media coverage.

She felt that important information was being lost

as the story evolved.

[Reynolds speaking indistinctly]

So she kept taping.

- Some 60 Americans, including our fellow citizen

whom you just saw bound and blindfolded,

are now beginning their sixth day of captivity

inside the US embassy in Tehran.

Officials will continue their search for some way

to negotiate the hostages' freedom.

[all chanting]

- The story changed.

A lot of the early reports indicated that there were,

for example, CIA personnel among the hostages,

and then suddenly there weren't.

- Obviously, if you were running

an intelligence agency,

it would be perfectly reasonable for them

to suppress that information,

but my mother was very conscious of that.

- A series of attempts to negotiate the release--

- She was saying, "Well, we got to get this.

Nobody else is gonna keep this."

- This to restore military balance

with the Soviet Union and...

- Her goal was trying to reveal

a set of agendas on the part of governments.

- Soviet troops had swept into Afghanistan,

dramatically changing the power game

in the Persian Gulf.

As much as it would like to,

the United States can no longer encourage

disintegration of authority in Iran

in order to free the hostages.

Day 59, January 1st,

an angry mob of Afghan and Iranian demonstrators

storm the Soviet embassy in Tehran,

but this time, Khomeini's revolutionary guards

evict the protesters.

[indistinct shouting]

That same day,

UN Secretary General Waldheim arrives in Tehran

to negotiate the release of the hostages.

- She was kind of watching these positionings

and maneuverings,

public opinion being molded,

kind of uniformly anti-Iran.

People were calling for, you know, war.

People were calling for all kinds of things.

She felt that there was a lack of sympathy

for the goals of the Iranian Revolution.

- One analyst says,

"Khomeini so strongly detests the US

"for its support of the Shah, who was his lifetime enemy,

"but also because he considers Americans

Satan's people and leaders of the decadent West."

- Outside the United States embassy

in Tehran this morning,

the crowds once again took up their daily chanting

and sign waving,

especially for the television cameras.

[all chanting]

- During that crisis, she hit record,

and she never stopped.

[epic music]

- "America Held Hostage" aired first for 15 minutes

and then for a half hour.

It's actually a kind of successful show

to the point that "Nightline" was born.

"Nightline" was actually a very transformative program

in the history of American television.

- Several Iranian health representatives spent some--

- The idea of a news show at 11:30 at night

aired essentially in competition

with the evening talk shows like "The Tonight Show,"

and then something kind of amazing happens.

It actually is watched by a lot of people.

- Good evening.

Some of the rhetoric coming out of Iran today

was reminiscent of the early weeks of this crisis.

- There was a long-running drama,

which had the capacity

to change every day unpredictably.

So it had a beautiful dramatic structure.

It had lots of unpredictable characters,

many subevents.

- There has been a startling new development

in the Iran hostage crisis.

A US attempt to launch a military rescue

of the American hostages in Tehran has been,

as you have now heard several times, aborted.

Eight US servicemen killed in the process.

- And it had this kind of agonizing pathos

of being taken hostage.

Not only were the Americans held in the embassy

in Tehran hostage,

but everybody else was a hostage, too.

The TV was part

of what was taking us hostage.

- I am just told that the Associated Press reports

that the hostages are leaving the airport.

Imagine that.

We are within half an hour of the transition of power.

Ted, can you come in and give us

any late information on the hostages?

- Yes, I can. UPI has just gone with a flash,

which is, in effect, the highest,

the most important notification and news

that they can give.

The last time they did it

was with the Kennedy assassination.

It's two words. It says, "Hostages freed."

- They're free. They're free, Mr. President.

They're free, Mr. President.

We've had press reports that they're free.

- They're freed? - The hostages.

- We've had press reports.

What do you have to say about that?

What do you have to say, sir?

- There's only one thing to say--thank God.

- One of the most dramatic freedom pictures

that we've all ever seen,

those, the 52 American hostages,

now officially designated the returnees out of Iran.

- The Iranian hostage crisis happened in 1979,

and CNN launched in 1980.

So my mother started taping

really at the birth of the 24-hour news cycle.

- The news 24 hours every day.

- Then she really went into high gear.

I recall there were times

when there were eight recorders going at once.

Those were special occasions.

Normally, there were three to five tapes recording.

People would say things like,

"Well, of course the station is going to keep everything."

And, of course, we know now

that the stations don't keep everything.

She understood that this was changing.

The speed of news was increasing

and that you'd find news

in places that you wouldn't have found it

in order to fill that space.

[machine clicks]

[dramatic music]

With new capabilities for recording that

and for tracking that process,

she was watching public opinion

being molded in this new medium.

- I mean, I don't think it was joyful to her, this taping.

And if the tape wasn't going, she was not happy.

She couldn't leave the apartment

without having a tape in,

and if we came in and the tape stopped,

she was upset, too, because she didn't get it all.

"The tape has ended. What happened?"

You know, so it was the disaster for the day.

- We had to go back to the Barclay

in between things to change the tapes.

She always knew exactly

when one of the tape machines would stop.

[indistinct chatter on TV]

- There's a system with your TV

where you can record stuff, but she didn't want that.

She was concerned

someone else would know what she was taping,

and she said, "I can tape what I want,

and people don't really know what I'm actually taping."

- The predawn retrieval of Elián González

came as many had begun thinking

that a voluntary handover was in the offing.

A moment-by-moment account

on how things changed from NBC's Pete Williams.

- She would often ask the people,

you know, like Rittenhouse Camera,

to send the tapes in black trash bags.

I guess she felt insecure in a way

that people were talking about her

behind her back or something.

You know, she would always tell me,

"Frank, I don't look like you,

and you don't understand what I've been through,"

and how people judge her.

When she moved into the Barclay,

she said she had gotten comments

from different residents

saying she didn't belong there.

- She was secretive about the process of recording

partly because she was secretive about everything

but partly because people kind of viewed it as kind of nutty.

- Lucy Coleman and Lisha

are identical twins, and they're celebrating.

Wednesday they'll be 100 years old.

The odds of twins living a century

are said to be one in 700 million.

- This is the greatest thing this town has ever had.

- And it's signed "Ronald Reagan."

- That's fine. Thank you.

- You're very welcome. - Yeah.

That's from the president. - I know.

- She told her husband ten years ago

that she wanted to be buried in her beloved Cadillac.

So, after the 62-year-old woman

died of cancer on Thursday, she got her wish.

After the car was lowered into the vault by the crane,

the woman's casket was placed on top of the car.

- They are still trying to reach little Jessica McClure.

She's 18 months old.

She's been trapped in a narrow pipe 20 feet belowground

in Midland, Texas, for nearly 24 hours now.

The child fell while playing

with other toddlers yesterday morning.

Rescuers are now trying to tunnel

through rock to reach Jessica.

- Buford, South Carolina, is a tranquil sort of place.

- How loud can you be when you love God?

- Placid and tranquil

until the preachers hit the streets.

- If you are found without the blood of Jesus Christ,

you will be cast alive into a lake of fire!

- She did remark periodically on how small events

from small-town America would occasionally make it onto CNN,

which would never have made the national news.

She was concerned with how that 24-hour news cycle

was being filled and what effect that would have.

- Since the first of the year,

a new law allows German citizens

free access to secret files kept on them

by the former East German secret police.

For decades, the police, known as Stasi,

spied on thousands of Germans.

- The East German secret police

had an extraordinarily efficient spy apparatus,

collecting information on an estimated 6 million people.

The law not only gives victims access to their files

but lets them see the names of those who spied against them.

Truthfulness will not cushion the pain,

as East Germans discover just who spied on whom,

including friends, neighbors, and even family.

- She was obsessed with the mediation of media,

you know, how media reflects a society back to itself.

- Exploitation of tearful widows,

cases of blatant sensationalism

and the manipulation of the press by politicians.

And although accusing the press of looking bad

may seem to be fashionable,

Chancellor says it doesn't square with the facts.

- The polling data that I have seen

and the people I've talked to around the country

show that those of us who are in it

are far more worried about its credibility

than those who see it or read it.

The public is fairly content with the journalism

it's getting in America today.

- I was thinking, "What's the purpose

of continually taping?"

But I didn't ask her about it.

I think it was for the betterment of mankind.

- They are coming essentially out of the same background

and have pretty much the same biases and stereotypes

and approaches to life that you have.

You talk among yourselves in a technical language,

which is to exclude the rest of us

from being able to evaluate, in terms of reality, our lives.

You need to deal with people

who are living a different reality than yours.

- It seemed like she was always interested

in getting different people together

and having them live together peaceably.

John and Marion were working

on this "Input" TV series together,

and I guess they just bonded.

- To have a confrontation, let's say Jewish-Christian

or black-white or youth-adult, whichever the course is,

they, too, come together as communities

prepared to hear honestly what they don't normally hear

so that this concept of really opening yourself

is what I'm attempting to help develop here.

- My father and Marion were producers on the shows.

I completely believe they were really fighting

for justice and freedom

and that they each in their own way

were really committed to that.

- Any conceptual prejudice or any misinformation

which may exist can be gotten out on the table,

and when it's examined in this spirit of affirmation,

even if the affirmation is only coming,

let's say, one way...

- Mm-hmm. - The belief is

that somehow this can be deflated and looked at

so that the goodness begins to bubble through.

- I was kind of intrigued by him, to say the least.

You know, I was this guy from the street corner,

and this is this rich guy in Chestnut Hill.

I knew he didn't work

'cause he was always around in the daytime.

So I said, "This guy is too rich to work."

John wanted something organized.

It was real '60s type of thing, and we'd hang out together.

He would pick a topic, and then we would discuss it.

His quest was always how we're going to change the structure.

This phoniness, this role-playing,

this not getting through to each other,

this creating images for each other,

and all this type of thing has got to go.

I was the rabble-rouser.

I realized he was trying to do the same things

I was trying to do.

Marion had that same goal.

- I respect a person who will deal

with my ideas

or with the situation, the reality of the situation,

not my credentials, that I use feminine wiles

or that I say it the right way.

You see? That's what's wrong with black folks.

We don't say it the right way.

If we just did, everything would be all right,

and if women would just, you know, say it politely

and make them think it's their idea and so on,

then there wouldn't be all this trouble,

and why are we now rocking the boat?

I think we can dealwith it better.

- Well, I don't accept that totally...

- They were talking about process, and my mother said,

"If I'm in charge, everybody can be equal,"

which is the kind of thing

that you might expect from someone transitioning

out of the Communist Party.

- You talked about faithin the democratic process.

You know, when people arekilled on the courthouse steps,

you know, for going upto register to vote,

now, how can you expectblack people

to have faithin the democratic process?

If you want us to have faithin the democratic process,

make it work.

It's your process. - I'm with you.

- Make it work. - I'm with you.

All of us together.

Not I make it work, but would you join me?

- No, you make it work! - Would you join me?

- You keep meout of your institutions.

- I should keep you out?

- No, you have kept meout of your institutions.

Your institutionsare what run this country.

- But if we are opening the door and saying, "Come.

Let's sit down and talk"--

- Make your process work first,and then--

- You don't want to come in and reason together?

- You don't want me in there.

- See, you're only talking as you as an individual.

- Marion was a very intelligent, very sharp,

very determined person to get her points across.

I think John was attracted to that.

[no audio]

- I think a lot of it had to do

with them having very similar ideals,

and my mother really wasn't into social issues.

She was an artist. She cared about how things looked,

and she was not a deeply spiritual person at all.

Unfortunately, I think my mother

felt very accused by him,

and I think that really distressed my mom a lot.

[soft music]

- I'm trying to make a positive input in society

instead of hanging on some set of norms that are prevailing.

- The answer-- - What is the key to building

a type of way of communicating

and working together so we will not--

- I think he knew he thought very differently about things

and wasn't interested in...

his social class particularly.

He had strong philosophical convictions.

- The awakening of individuals as to who they are,

what their identity is, how they define themselves,

whether as a member of a white group or black group,

Jewish, Christian.

Everyone is saying, "I'm trying to find out who I am."

- No, I said, John...

- The working relationship

and eventually the romance between these people

from different backgrounds really puzzled people.

My impression is that the two of them never really felt

understood by other people

until they really met each other.

I knew that he had a family.

I remember, you know, seeing him at our house.

I think I understood something's going on.

You know, as a 10-, 11-year-old,

I kind of wasn't welcome.

- I'd been through college and was living back at home,

and I remember coming into the kitchen,

and he was almost at the door with a suitcase.

- And I said, "How long is this for?"

I mean, at this point, I was 17.

"How long is this for?"

And he said, "Well, I'm not really sure."

- I was able to get horoscopes of two people whom I knew

who, let's say, were very much in love

or were collaborating together very closely,

and I was astounded when these two charts were superimposed

that here were these very--

about eight planets

were in close correlation or conjunction.

- There's a certain point

where even I'm gonna get it,

and I think I got it.

[airplane engine roaring]

I guess you could call it the pre-marriage honeymoon.

[light music]

We spent quite a bit of time in London,

and then we spent at least a few days in Paris.

As a librarian, she'd kind of seen pictures

of all this stuff

and kind of knew a lot about it.

It was just an amazing thing.

It was a shift.

I understood that we probably weren't going to have to heat

the house with gas from the stove anymore.

I sort of looked on him,

you know, as a bit of a role model.

They were married in New Hope, Pennsylvania,

2 days after I turned 13.

A lot of John's family was there.

That was the first time I met his children.

- I could see how happy my father was with Marion.

It was pretty overwhelming.

- Each of them accepted their personality quirks,

their intensity and intellect

at a level that neither of them, I think,

had really felt before.

Her relationship to John

was one of the most deeply satisfying things in her life.

[psychedelic rock music]

[upbeat music]

- Turn on the machine.

[machine whirring]

Pour in almost all the water and then go poom, poom, poom.


- This now is a tape

of yesterday afternoon's shooting.

The assailant now held to the ground.

The President,

who was immediately pushed into the car.

- I knew that they recorded things sometimes.

- 24 hours a day, relaxing--

- But I didn't have any sense

of it being a specific project.

- Experience you can trust.

- This is CBS.

- Each evening Monday through Friday on--

- This is CBS.

- 24-hour feeds were CNN, Fox, MSNBC

that I would put in an 8-hour tape.

Marion controlled certain of the VCRs,

selectively changing station to station.

She was creating a library at home,

and she often talked about buying another property

that she could put her whole library in.

- Imagine being able to go to a reference source

where you can actually see and hear.

- ♪ Come feel the excitement

♪ Of who, what, where, why

- ♪ Open Britannica

- That sense of kind of stewarding

a whole lot of knowledge

and actually being able to give it to people

struck her sort of democratic sensibilities.

[dramatic music]

- In Afghanistan, increasing numbers of refugees

continue crossing the border into Pakistan.

- The flow of refugees arrive at the rate of about 400 a day

in camps set up by the Pakistan government

some distance from the border.

- The New York City transit-worker strike

is into its fourth day.

[horns honking]

- Yes, despite all kinds of traffic jams...

- Somebody do something!

- New Yorkers have not allowed the strike

to change their usual disposition.

- This here stinks. - Stinks.

- Don't bother me. Why don't you do something constructive?

- Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk,

bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk.

- It's been 2 years since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan,

and today the State Department reports

that the Soviets seem bogged down

in a Vietnam-like no-end situation.

- Terrorism in Lebanon and in this country

and what, if anything, can be done about it.

It's an embassy in Kuwait, a department store in London,

and, overall, the fear that maybe it could happen here.

- Ted Turner has announced that his company,

Turner Broadcasting System,

is putting up a half million dollars

to help finance television programs

without regard to national origins or politics.

Turner's political beliefs were questioned.

- First of all, I don't think these issues--

in my opinion, these are not right or left

or conservative or liberal issues.

These are issues that affect everyone.

- ♪ We thank you, Lord! [all singing]

- Civil rights and women's groups

rallied over the weekend in Pickens County, Alabama,

on behalf of two local black activists

who are likely to be sent to prison today

for voting fraud--

69-year-old Julia Wilder,

president of the Pickens Voters League

and 51-year-old Maggie Bozeman,

president of the local NAACP.

- I would not have been trying to help people

had they been able to do it for themself,

but we have a lot of illiterate people here

that don't understand,

and I had been doing absentees for them for years

and still gonna plan to do it, you know.

- What's wrong with the journey of a log cabin to White House,

and what's wrong with the journey from peanut plant

to the president, if it is within the law?

The Constitution provides,

if you're 35 years of age or older

and an American citizen and you can convince

the American electorate to vote for you--

that is the constitutional provision.

- Computer technology

has expanded at an astonishing rate.

It helps check out your food and process your income taxes.

[upbeat music]

Like computer music,

computer art is just beginning to be explored,

but there are limits.

A computer does not have a mind of its own.

[echoing] A computer does not have a mind of its own.

A computer does not have a mind of its own.

- Very good hands, indeed.

[indistinct chatter]

- The day the Macintosh computer was announced

was a really big deal for my mother.

I remember her, like, calling me round to the house

to watch the commercial as it was aired.

"I want to see it, and I want you to see it."

- Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary

of the Information Purification Directives

we have created.

Secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths.

Our unification of thoughts is more powerful a weapon

than any fleet or army on Earth.

Our enemies shall talk themselves to death,

and we will bury them with their own confusion.

- Aah!

- We shall prevail!


[computer beeps]

- My mother was a huge fan of technology

as a way of unlocking people's potential.

- Now, with Wang's new integrated information system,

one person very simply can perform data processing,

word processing--

- Since the mid-1970s,

she'd started collecting VIC-20s and Commodore 64s.

- Who knows what the future holds?

- And she was looking for a type of computer

that would be easy to use.

- And Macintosh is saying,"Here is a way

"to make personal computersavailable to the rest of us"...

- Apple enhanced human freedom.

Apple enhanced people's creativity.

Apple was her baby.

She had an incredible ability to recognize shifts

in media and technology, and she reacted to them.

She became an evangelist for Apple.

She bought enormous amounts of their technology.

- The first thing she did give me was a Apple computer.

- She was very interested in us using it

and then coming back and telling her what we learned

or what, you know, she could learn from it.

- She had multiple versions

of every Apple product ever released.

- Well, Ted, Apple Computer says

it expects profit margins of 20% or better

in the coming quarter.

- She really urged the family trust

to invest in Apple early on.

I think her first purchases were at about $7 a share,

and she'd insist they hold Apple stock in an unwieldy,

large, discrete holding,

and it went up significantly.

[electronic music]

It definitely increased both the family wealth

and her personal wealth.

- Here's to the crazy ones...

the misfits, the rebels...

the troublemakers,

the round pegs in the square holes,

the ones who see things differently.

[cheers and applause]

- She was very much into Steve Jobs.

Michael often jokes that Steve was one of her other sons

that she had other than just Michael.

- I remember when Steve Jobs died,

the next time I talked to her, she said,

"I'm surprised you didn't call when Steve died."

And I was like...

She really, really identified with Steve Jobs

at a very early age,

realizing that he was a lot more intelligent

than a lot of people around him

and being incredibly hard on people.

And Steve Jobs' story of being adopted...

those things really resonated with my mother.

[soft music]

- The route that we took every day was identical,

but on that particular day,

she decided to come home via Germantown Avenue,

and she wanted to go and see her old home.

We talked about an extraordinary subject...

And that was her youth.

I discovered her early life had been very similar to mine.

We were both adopted.

- My mother was born in Philadelphia in 1929,

so just after the crash.

She was informally adopted.

Her mother gave her up

ostensibly for economic reasons,

but I think my mother tracked her down

and found out that she had raised subsequent children.

So she felt very betrayed by that.

She had a very turbulent childhood,

you know, just being passed from family to family.

I think that that early sense of abandonment

and betrayal really kind of set

a lot of my mother's attitudes toward other people.

- Me being a foster child, we had that in common, too.

Me and Richard, we were able to accept it

and be more positive about it,

but she still held those, you know, hard to her heart

as far as her mother,

and I feel as though that hindered her life.

It really did.

- She had, I think, heightened and unrealistic standards

for how families should behave with each other.

[crowd cheering]

- Three, two, one, and liftoff!

Liftoff! [cheers and applause continue]

And it has cleared the tower.

- I think maybe initially she made efforts.

I mean, I would visit some, and she was friendly,

but it definitely felt like a barrier to my father.

- I believe she was seeing it as competing with her.

They wanted to do everything together.

Everything had to be together.

I remember her saying,

oh, you know, we probably think of her as the evil stepmother.

Well, we didn't, but in some ways, we did.

- There was no sense

of sort of being a family with them

because we weren't allowed to talk

about other family members.

That was considered gossip.

- Gossip usually affirms some sort of a norm

that is a complicity between the two people are gossiping

as to the way people should be,

and this other person somehow is different.

- And who decides what's normal?

And I think maybe a re-examination

of what is normal is in order at this point,

because what's normal is simply what we've...

- Accepted. - Been taught or accepted.

- The word "dogmatic" comes to mind.

If I would disagree with her, I'd get blasted,

and Michael said basically she was like that, too.

[indistinct chatter]

- My mother was--

as someone who'd tape things and kept things,

she was absolutely concerned that everyone agreed

on the accurate details of what had happened.

We would have a six-hour argument with her.

I mean, literally, six hours.

Obviously I found it difficult.

[indistinct chatter]

It was a long point of contention between her and me

about my boringly conventional intellect

compared to her,

which I think is probably accurate.

What she wanted was bold thinking, autodidactic,

and really outside the mainstream.

You know, I just got completely fed up

with being controlled,

being, in a lot of ways, talked down to.

You know, my mother really could quite be very cruel

if she thought you weren't kind of intellectually

up to her standard.

It was kind of, like, a two-day argument going on.

I mean, I just remember

storming out of a couple of rooms,

and my mother said, "Well, nice to have known you."

And we just didn't talk a whole lot

for a long, long, long time.

- One of Mr. Reagan's nominees is in trouble in Washington,

in trouble for saying that the NAACP is a pinko organization

and that a white civil-rights attorney

from his home state of Alabama is a disgrace to his race.

- It's inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude

is qualified to be a US attorney,

let alone a United States or federal judge.

- Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III--

he was brought face-to-face

with things he personally had said,

for example, that the NAACP and the Civil Liberties Union

are un-American organizations.

- These comments that you could say

about commie organizations or something,

I may have said something like that.

[upbeat music playing]

- Let's start the "Family Feud"

winner-take-all spectacular!

- Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

- Two or three years after that rather intense argument,

I moved out of the country without telling her.

I was really running.

So, you know, between the two of us,

we just kept it going.

- A few months ago, I told the American people

I did not trade arms for hostages.

My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true,

but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

- The devastation. - It's hopeless.

- The despair.

- I've never seen men cry like they have this year.

- This is CNN breaking news.

- Um, because of the...

The HIV virus that I have attained, uh...

I will have to retire from the Lakers.

- Feel that your proposal was unfairly denied or ignored

because you are a woman or a member of a minority group?

If so, the state wants information...

- Hi from Iraq! We're scouts from the 76 Infantry!

all: Good morning, America!

- We are owned by larger and larger companies.

It doesn't make me a radical to be somewhat concerned

about white male boardroom view will be even more a feature

of the news gathering and reporting.

What story isn't be pursued?

What story isn't being covered?

- A part of your party!

It is now 1992!

Happy New Year! [cheers and applause]

- Curfew is in effect,

as Los Angeles continues to reel from violence

in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

The South Central part of the city

looked like a burning Kuwaiti oil field.

- One footnote to all of this--

the final episode of "The Cosby Show"

aired tonight in Los Angeles.

For 8 years, the program held up an ideal

of a happy, successful black American family.

- ♪ In the victory of good

♪ Over evil

Fight the real enemy!

- In all of this, William Jefferson Clinton

has undermined the integrity of his office

and has acted in a manner subversive of the rules--

- We're leaving this program to bring you live coverage

of President Clinton's comments

on the military strikes in Iraq.

- On Wednesday, I ordered our armed forces

to strike military and strategic targets in Iraq.

- When we did talk, it was very, very strained.

Could have an hour-long phone conversation with my mother

during which there might be 15 minutes of actual talking,

and the rest of it was just silence.

- That is the lunar eclipse from last night.

- As this century ends,

we have seen our last lunar eclipse of the 1900s.

- In Times Square, eyes are up there on the ball.

[cheers and applause]

Happy New Year!

[cheers and applause continue]

- I don't remember how long it had been since I'd contact,

but it was a long time

because they would not answer the phone.

Marion wouldn't or couldn't maybe.

One point, I asked her, "Okay, if you don't answer the phone,

how are we supposed to get in touch?"

She said, "Well, you could FedEx us."


I just decided,

"Well, why don't I just wait

and see if I can make contact?"

I just sat in Rittenhouse Square

and waited to see if he would come out,

and he did.

He would use a little grocery-shop cart,

almost like a walker.

He was very stooped over.

He's making his way up along 18th Street,

and I mean, here I am stalking my dad.

So I thought, "Well, I guess I'd better just go up."

And I...

I did and said, "Oh, here I am.

I just happened to see you here."

And he seemed very glad to see me.

He sat down and said, "Let's talk."

The burning question that I had,

that really all of us siblings had was...

did he not communicate with us

because he didn't want to, or was it because of Marion?

And he said that his relationship with Marion

was the most important thing in his life

and that he didn't want to rock the boat.

I think he actually used that term.

And he said, "Don't ever tell Marion that we spoke here."

I considered him something of a wimp.

I mean, I have a clear visual memory of him walking

and crossing the street and going back

into the Barclay apartment building...

and not turning around.

- There's perhaps 20 years

that they were isolated in the house.

Sometimes I'd get down there in the morning.

They were there theirselves sitting in their chairs

amidst all these books and magazines and stuff,

and if I would come in or whatever, you know,

their chairs were side by side, and they'd be holding hands.

The way they treated each other was just amazing.

They told me they were soul mates.

- I think, at that point in their life,

she had "outsed" everyone.

She was content with just her and John,

and he sacrificed himself for her.

You know, I believe that.

He didn't agree with everything,

but he humbled himself to allow her to be herself.

John was taken in by Ms. Stokes' knowledge.

She said, "People can't take knowledge from you."

So she pretty much felt as though the fact

that she was knowledgeable is what kept her in the family,

in John's heart.

- Would you like to lower your monthly mortgage payments

or use the equity in your home to consolidate your credit card

or other debts?

Just log on--

- Camera two. - Yeah.

This just in-- you are looking

at obviously a very disturbing live shot there.

That is the World Trade Center,

and we have unconfirmed reports this morning

that a plane has crashed

into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

CNN Center right now

is just beginning to work on this story,

obviously calling our sources

and trying to figure out exactly what happened,

but clearly something relatively devastating

happening this morning there

on the south end of the island of Manhattan.

That is, once again, a picture of one of the towers

of the World Trade Center.

- Are you guys ready? - We can see these pictures.

It's obviously... [people singing]

Something devastating has happened.

And again, unconfirmed reports

that a plane has crashed into one of the towers there.

We are efforting more information on this subject

as it becomes available to you.

- Right now we've got Sean Murtagh--

he is a CNN producer-- on the telephone right now.

Sean, what can you tell us about what you know?

- This is Sean Murtagh. [overlapping conversations]

- If a football hero accused of murder

is news for months,

if every Capitol Hill scandal merits weeks of coverage,

how much attention do 2 1/2 million dead merit?

It's a story we should've brought you long ago.

This week on "Nightline,"

we'd like to make up for that by finally telling you

about the beauty and the tragedy of Congo.

3 years, 2 1/2 million dead.

We thought you should know.

- One of the World Trade Center towers.

- Sean, what kind of plane? Was it a small plane, a jet?

- It was a jet. Looked like--

- We're going to tell you what we know as we know it,

but we just got a report in

that there's been some sort of explosion--

at the World Trade Center in New York City.

- And where were you when you saw this?

- One report said, and we can't confirm any of this,

that a plane may have hit

one of the two towers of the World Trade Center.

But again, you're seeing the live pictures here.

We have no further details than that.

We don't know anything [overlapping conversations]

about what they have concluded happened there this morning.

But we're going to find out

and, of course, make sure that everybody knows on the air.

- These are, of course,

the two twin Trade Center buildings

that are down at the foot of Manhattan.

They really are the beacons of New York.

It was there that there was the explosion

a couple of years ago brought about by terrorists.

That's all gone through the courts,

but this we don't know anything about.

We don't know about anything that has happened here

other than the fact that there's obviously been

a major incident there, and we're gonna go

to a special report now from ABC News.

- ...debris that has hit down there,

and can you see anything?

- My vantage point is too far from the World Trade Center

to make any determination of that.

- Do you see any smoke,

any flames coming out of the engines of that plane?

- No, I did not.

- This is an ABC News special report.

- It was coming in low...

- by the entire ABC network.

"Good Morning, America" was in progress

on the East Coast and the Midwest,

but we're joined by the entire network

just to show you some pictures at the foot of New York City.

- The plane is now coming out the side of the building,

and smoke continues to billow. [overlapping conversations]

- It's 8:52 here in New York.I'm Bryant Gumbel.

We understand that therehas been a plane crash

on the southern tipof Manhattan.

- Live pictures from New York City.

[overlapping conversations] Apparently a plane has crashed

into the World Trade Center in New York, 8:52,

with limited information at this point.

We don't know about injuries in the building

or people on the ground,

but obviously this has potential--

- There.

- It does not appear that there's any kind

of an effort up there yet.

Now, remember-- Oh, my God.

- Oh, God! - My God.


- I can hear you!

The rest of the world hearsyou, and the people of--

[cheers and applause]

And the people of--

- We didn't have contact for many years,

but a month after 9/11 happened,

I had written a note saying,

"You know, if there's anything you need any help with,

I'd be happy to help you."

Marion said, "Well, there are some things

we could use some help with."

And what it was they needed help with

was labeling videotapes.

There was a wall of tapes,

and there were little stickies on them--

CNN, a certain date and time,

and they wanted actual labels put on them.

[man speaking indistinctly on TV]

It just seems that she was more concerned

about not losing any information

about what was happening in the world,

but that seemed to get in the way

of having real contact

or information about her family.

- She collected between 40,000 and 50,000 books.

She would buy them at every opportunity.

She voraciously read them.

- I think she said she had nine apartments

or homes.

We were, like, packed to the gills.

- She was a hoarder.

You know, she hoarded everything.

You know, she got obsessed with the syrup containers

that you get in diners,

so we found, like, 50 of them or something.

- We weren't allowed to throw anything out.

We kept them in bags. We called them burn bags.

And we would stick them throughout the apartments.

She got different books that said "my life is a mess"

and different ones about how intelligent people are hoarders

and, you know, live in disarray, you might say.

[soft music]

- Hi, everybody.

What do you think we would find

if we went to your house with our television cameras

and looked into your closet?

A mess probably.

- She would buy stuff, and I would say,

"Marion, where do you want me to put it?"

And she would say, "Make room."

- Today we're talking with shopaholics.

- It was almost like Marion's brain, these apartment rooms,

and she knew where she would store stuff.

Having all these magazines and books

piled up around her and tapes

and just walking through these little pathways

was who she was.

If you took away everything...

you would take away Marion.

- We're taking video tours through shopaholics' closets

just to see what exactly they had hidden away.

Here is one of our viewers.

- This one I love,

and as soon as I get someplace to wear it...

This makes a statement.

- The difference between a hoarder and a collector

is what value someone else finds

in what they've got.

So if people come to a house

and they think it's a pile of junk,

then this person is a hoarder.

If they think, "Oh, my God,

no one has ever kept this before,"

then suddenly they're a collector.

- Well, you rarely see them in this good a shape.

For example, the fingers are perfect.

The bird is in mint condition,

and I'd say if this were to go to auction today,

conservatively, it would be worth two in the bush.

- Really? - It's just beautiful.

Thank you so much for bringing it in.

- When you have a institution like a museum or a university

and they begin to collect,

you don't tend to question why they're doing it.

There must be a rational reason,

but when you're one lone person

and especially a woman,

then you're considered to be an outlier.

We shouldn't ascribe rationality to those in power

and irrationality to those without it.

- In her mind, there was a purpose to it all.

She was always looking into the future.

All news had to be kept...

for history, for prosperity.

- We know who shot Trayvon, but police...

- When something was important,

she would want me to sit and watch it with her,

like Trayvon Martin.

- A neighborhood-watch volunteer

told Sanford, Florida, police

that he was acting in self-defense.

[all chanting]

- She wanted to, like, compare

the way the news is put out there

and how we as a community takes it in.

- Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.

- The group calls itself MOVE, M-O-V-E.

Its membership is predominantly black,

and while it describes itself as a back-to-nature movement,

that may be an overly benign description

of a group that has terrorized its neighbors

and has a history of violence.

- I presume somewhere in that archive

you could pull out a sub-archive

of racially motivated police brutality.

- Members of a radical group...

- Going back and watching in detail

how those stories get told,

what sort of justifications are offered,

what sort of unanswered questions remain.

- Police dropped a percussion bomb onto this house,

trying to flush out members

of a radical back-to-the-Earth group known as MOVE.

- Last night, inside the headquarters

of the radical group known as MOVE.

- Heavily armed members of a radical group known as MOVE.

- Martin Luther King said that because of television,

it was going to be hard to maintain racism

because television would show all.

If you had things like Rodney King,

then how could you not reform racism in the country?

- They can get it on videotape,

and we still can't get a conviction.

- Well, what happens to the police

when they break the law?

That question is back again

because of Monday's beating of two people

by sheriff's deputies from Riverside County, California.

Granted, the video doesn't tell you everything,

but it sure looks like the deputies

were using excessive force,

and it sure looks like

the Rodney King beating all over again.

- But isn't it a stretch to tryto use this horrible incident

as part of your attemptto justify illegal immigration?

- We are more apt to be the victims of police brutality

than any other group.

Police use of deadly force against Hispanics

has been a very significant problem.

- A few weeks agoin South Carolina

where a state trooperin an unmarked car

took a woman who was speeding,manhandled her,

threw her on her back,gave her bodily injury,

and she was as whiteas the driven snow.

[epic music]

Bill, I made an embarrassing mistake.

The woman who was manhandled in South Carolina was not white.

She was black. I saw the thing about a half a dozen times.

It just shows how colorblind I am.

- Not guilty--

that was the headline across the country today.

Three New York police detectives, 50 bullets,

and an unarmed 23-year-old shot to death

just hours before the man was to be married.

- Time and time again, these cases are cases

of black, blue, and white.

Black is the race of the people who are dead.

Blue is the uniform who kill them,

and white is the race

of the people that let those killers go.

- Wait a minute.

But see, but that isthe sort of race-baiting--

This is--They are two police--

- That happens to be true!

- No, there were five peoplehere, five police officers.

Two of themwere African Americans.

- We went into a little bit history's web of violence,

and I just wondering if this is related in any way

to the whole acceptance of violence

and killing as an everyday thing.

Those in power are able to write their own history

from their own bias,

and I think an extension of that

certainly would be our discussion today of violence

which we may not call violence

but which is a large-scale violation

of the human being potential

and total humanity and dignity.

- She felt until the end

that her work was supremely important.

And she shared that commitment with John.

- How can those who are committed to human potential

for a cooperative and constructive society--

how can such persons make a breakthrough?

How can we get out of the web of violence and break through

and help others break through

to a more peaceful

and cooperative type of society?

- I remember Marion calling me,

like, 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning

and saying, "Frank, we have to go to the hospital right away.

There's a problem with John."

And when we got up there, he was gone.

- It was very clear that she fundamentally changed

as a person, though, afterwards.

John was her friend as well as her husband.

She became much quieter, more passive in many ways.

A lot of her energy drained after his death.

She just...

would cry sometimes.

During the period after his death,

she decided to go to Channel 10

to look at some of her old TV show.

- But we don't get into the situation

where a majority of white people, let's say--

- And, of course, industry had passed her by,

and the tapes were no longer viewable

because they no longer had the kind of equipment to show them.

- You know, we're not going to take these arbitrary norms of--

- I think it took away a part of her life

that she wanted to relive.

- We're going to recognize this diversity of persons.

Each is legitimately human and should--

in the total dialogue of society

for the enrichment of all should be recognized...

- Gonna see a snowflake on top of Southern Hills.

[epic music]

- On "After 8" this morning, drugs, sex and rock and roll.

They're the terms that defined the '60s.

Problem is, some say our memories of that time

often preserve the pleasure and forget the pain.

- ♪ To everything, turn, turn, turn ♪

- Were the '60s a special time,

or are they merely the obsession

of the baby-boom generation,

a generation that can't put their youth behind them?

Bruce Elliott is president of

the Anti-Nostalgia Associationfor the Advancement of Time,

a group that believes America

is too preoccupiedwith the past.

In what sense,too preoccupied with the past?

- Well, in the sense that so much of contemporary culture

is really devoted to regurgitating the past.

So it starts to obscure our vision of the future.

- What do you think of whatBruce just said,

that if we're preoccupiedwith that decade,

we can't look aheadto the next one?

- Well, you know, it's on a continuum.

You can understand the racism today when you see--

understand what happened

with the civil-rights demonstration in the '60s.

It's on a continuum.

[dramatic music]

- The road ahead will be long.

Our climb will be steep.

We may not get there in one year

or even in one term,

but, America, I have never been more hopeful

than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

[cheers and applause]

- Nothing ever in our lifetimes did we expect this to happen!

Something big just happened.

It feels like...

it feels like anything is now possible.

all: [chanting] Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

[cheers and applause]

- Mrs. Stokes was always a futuristic person.

She was always looking into the future.

She was absolutely determined

that the next generation would be better.

[dynamic music]

- Richard would say, "Where would you like to go?"

And she would look over at me, say,

"Frank, where do you think we should go today?"

Sometimes she would just want to go out and ride.

And then she might just look out the window.

And once she got her iPhone, she liked to take pictures.

- When we first got into the restaurant,

she would always say,

"Don't just order what you like. Order"--

And I'm not into, you know,

ordering something I don't think I'm gonna like.

And she's like, "Didn't you eat that already?"

So she would want me to try something I didn't have.

- She told me, "Frank, if I'm like your mother,

your mother yells at you, right?"

So don't take it in a wrong way.

It's just that I'm upset with you.

She had a martini every day, Tanqueray martini,

very dry, straight-up with a twist.

If she didn't want to drink it all,

we used to bring it home in a paper cup.

I don't think a lot of people realize the real Marion,

how she cared about people, was interested in everybody.

[indistinct chatter]

[dramatic music]

- You had to be sitting right next to her,

holding her hand.

And that's what made me notice she was a person,

a giving and loving person.

[chatter continues]

It came from me and Frank and Richard

opening her up to that

because it was, like, part of life she never saw...

to have that connection with somebody

that would just hold your hand

and, you know, be there for you every day.

- Richard, the driver, Anna, the aide and myself,

we were part of her family, I guess you would call it.

- I was quite pleased with that surrogate family.

I've got a deep level of affection for those people,

and that facilitated much more opening...

and much more communication

between, you know, my kids and their grandmother,

and they developed a really, really sweet relationship.

I remember my daughter saying to me,

"I just can't imagine Gran getting angry."

I'm like-- [laughs]

It still makes me laugh. It's just--

And I told her,

"I love that you've got that kind of relationship with her

'cause no one else on Earth does."

It's really difficult to get resolution

when somebody's turning a lot of emotions into anger.

Do you know what?

I'm not sure what I did wrong,

but I need you to forgive me, and I forgive you,

and we only got there

within the last two months of her death.

[overlapping conversations]

- ...share the same sentiment as Arizona,

saying the federal government just isn't doing enough

to secure our borders

and fight the illegal-immigration problem

here in America.

- I saw the most diverse-looking

social movement.

- It was, like, almost 20 tapes a day

we were taping.

It was becoming harder and harder to find VHS tapes,

and I used to go around the city scouring the stores.

- Well, who doesn't want to be able to predict the future?

30 years ago, who knew we'd have the Internet?

One man did know. His name's Andy Gaspar.

- It just seemed to us

that there was something new being born,

something that was dramatically different

that would change the way we communicate.

- It was newspapersback then

that you thoughtsort of might be in danger.

What do you think issort of the next wave?

- Well, there are a few of them,

and that is the role of a local TV station.

We now have Fox News channel

that's available on the Internet

anytime you want it,

'cause you wonder, what is the role of Channel 5 news,

any local TV station in that kind of environment?

- The aides would call me through the night sometimes

and say, "Marion is not doing very well."

When I came in, she was in her chair,

but her head was almost on the ground.

Like, she was bent in half.

When I sat her up--

and I remember her eyes were open,

and she looked at me, and she just patted my arm,

and she said, "Frank...

everything's gonna be all right."


I sort of felt that, as she would say,

the guardian angels were...

[softly] Taking her home.

- And so I got over there relatively quickly.

You know, she was sitting up. They'd propped her up.

And she was just looking very, very peaceful,

but on the news,

and, you know, we kind of left the news running

because we didn't know if she'd wake up

and, like, blow up that we'd turned it off.

So we just kind of left it on.

And there was this horrific story unfolding.

- We are now multiple hours into this horrific,

horrific crime that has happened

in this small sleepy New England town

of Newtown, Connecticut, at this elementary school.

The call came into 911

right around 9:30 this morning.

A gunman walked in this school.

The latest number we have, and again...

[somber music]

- [exhales deeply]

That would've been a rough day anyway.

[breathes deeply]

That would've been a rough day anyway.

- Again, we're hearing closer to 30 killed at the school.

As far as children, little children--

keep in mind,

the school is kindergarten through fourth grade--

somewhere between 18...

- And my mom's breathing

was getting shallower and shallower,

and her hands were getting colder.

I said, "You know, it looks like your ride is here"...

you know?

[exhales deeply]

[voice breaking] And she went.


[exhales deeply]

And then we turned off the VCRs,

turned off the TV.

It was kind of scary in the apartment

without all that noise.

[sniffles, sighs]

It's kind of like you only knew she was dead

when you turned the VCRs off.

When I discovered that I was a coexecutor of the will,

I didn't realize that she had basically trusted me

with finding the right home for it,

that she really did value my capabilities

and value my perspective.

It's changed my view of our relationship.

- Michael said that,

"This is my mother's whole life.

"It would be like throwing her life away

if I didn't do something with them."

- It was really a full-time job for a year and a half.

Donated a lot of books to a charity

that uses secondhand books to teach at-risk youth.

Got rid of the Apple computers.

But no one would take the tapes...

no one.

- So we decided to take all the tapes

and put them in a POD.

They were, like, 16 foot long, 8 foot high and 8 foot wide.

And put them in storage

until something could be worked out.

We were very afraid, "Nobody wants these,

and they'll all just be thrown in the trash."


- And let me just put this out there.

This story just hits home with us newsies,

us news junkies.

Every news broadcast for 35 years

is about to be preserved for posterity.

35 years, and for that,

we have this woman to thank-- the late Marion Stokes.

Marion Stokes hit record way back in 1977.

She didn't stop until December of 2012,

all of that history arriving today by truck

at an archive in San Francisco from Stokes' home.

With me now from Philadelphiais Marion Stokes' son,

Mike Metelits,

and we are also joinedby Roger Macdonald

of the Internet Archivein San Francisco.

But first, Roger, to you.

Tell me, how rare is thiscollection from Marion Stokes?

- It's an exceptional collection,

really an unprecedented collection, and...

I first heard of Marion Stokes from an email from Michael.

I was just amazed that somebody had actually done this

at this size, the magnitude of it.

- And he took the stuff.

We shipped it across the country--

couple of trucks--

and a huge load was lifted from my shoulders,

and it's just been staggering, staggering relief.

- We just felt like, you know, a miracle had happened,

that someone was willing to take them

and to, you know, make them accessible to the public.

[uplifting music]

- They arrived in our warehouse in Richmond

in truck after truck.

I think the scale of Marion Stokes' collection

is absolutely impressive.

I mean...

nobody in this field has ever heard

or seen the like.

What she recorded is inaccessible to us...

all the long-form programming that she got,

all the CNN, all the Fox,

and then there's the local news.

That's a rare collection.

There are probably elements that she has that nobody has.

- She understood the power of media

to shape public opinion, and when--

One of my mother's dreams

was that that would be available to people.

As an only child, you know, just to be able

to take my mother's life's work

and to be able to participate

in someone making it available to people,


that's just enormously gratifying.

- Our intention and goal is to digitize them,

put everything that she has on our servers

to hold on to it for future generations

and make it available.

What we're offering is to search television by key word.

- When we sent them the test box,

they immediately began to realize

that the early days of my mother's taping

were also the early days of closed captioning.

They can use the closed captioning as a tag

that lets people know

and search what's happening in the actual videotape.

The Internet Archive is able to make these tapes accessible

in a much more technology-savvy way.

Now there's so much media, more than ever,

people need access to reliable information

to make their decisions,

and that was very much

what my mother would've wanted to do.

- Decades' worth of television broadcasts

is irretrievably lost.

An archive redeems the object of its collecting

from the trash can of history.

Effectively, you will only know afterwards

what is important to have collected,

so the more you have, the more you can then go back

and say, "Hmm, this is actually important."

- Aah!

- All archives create futures.

[indistinct chatter]

- When looking at the underlying instincts

that drives collection and preservation,

there is this human drive to transcend time...

not willing to let go of any moment

and the realization that the past is never let go.

- The fact that she kept all this stuff,

when other people caught up that they wanted to save it

20 years after she started, that's smart.

She had an incredible ability

to see trends and to act on them.

It's difficult not to call her a visionary,

really difficult to pull that tag away from her.

She was very, very much ahead of her time.

She did give up a lot in terms of what, you know,

people think of as kind of normal human life,

but she funneled all that energy into doing things

that she felt were important to her,

that were gonna be important in the long run.

It was hard for me and the family...

but I loved her.




  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv


World Channel
Vienna Blood
Under a Minute
The Talk: Race in America
The National Parks
The Light
The Cardinal’s Files
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Talking Pictures with Neil Rosen
Shall Not Be Denied
Room Tone
Reel 13
Prehistoric Road Trip