In 1946, The Adventures of Superman radio show took on the Ku Klux Klan in an effort to teach young listeners lessons about tolerance and standing up to bigotry.
The first episode of the 16-part “Clan of the Fiery Cross” aired on June 10, 1946, to “dramatiz[e] the realities of the Ku Klux Klan to a generation of young radio listeners.” From the beginning, Superman had a social conscience, and one thread of this narrative traces the origins of Superman and his rise to stardom as a comic-book and radio hero. The other thread examines the history and mid-20th-century resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. But it’s not until late in the volume that the collision between Superman and the KKK occurs, making it seem like a work that isn’t quite sure of what it wants to be, or for whom it was written. With sentences such as, “Brown even got inside a secret subunit of the Kavalier Klub that called itself the Ass-Tearers and printed on its calling card the image of a corkscrew—its implement of choice for torturing and disemboweling its victims,” this often reads more like journalism than children’s literature.
A fascinating twin narrative, though not quite the story the title suggests. (bibliography, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)