Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a program in VOA Special English about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson.

This week, we answer a question about heavy metal music in American. And, we tell about black history month in the United States.

But first, some news about the death of a long-time children's television performer, Captain Kangaroo.

Captain Kangaroo Dies



Children's television performer Bob Keeshan died last month. He was seventy-six years old. The actor was known as Captain Kangaroo. His program was on television for many years. Shirley Griffith tells more.


Bob Keeshan was born in nineteen-twenty-seven on Long Island, New York. He finished high school and joined the Marines in nineteen-forty five. But fighting in World War Two had ended before he was deployed.

Bob Keeshan worked in television for several years before he got the chance to launch his own children's program. The "Captain Kangaroo" show first appeared in nineteen-fifty-five. It was broadcast on the C-B-S network for twenty-nine years. Then, in nineteen-eighty-four, the program moved to public television. It appeared for six more years.

Millions of American children grew up with Captain Kangaroo. Each day, Bob Keeshan wore a big red coat with large pockets on the side. Some people said the pockets were big enough to hide a baby kangaroo, like the animals do in Australia. That is how Bob Keeshan got his show name.

Some characters always appeared on the Captain Kangaroo show. One was a friendly man named Mister Green Jeans. He always had some strange, new mechanical device that he could never get to work. Mister Moose and Bunny Rabbit were talking hand puppets. There was also an old grandfather clock that told poems.

Bob Keeshan was an activist for children. He often warned parents against the influence of television. He also helped launch the Coalition for America's Children. This organization works to inform politicians about the importance of young people. It also tries to educate voters about positions that elected officials take on children's issues.

On television Bob Keeshan tried to teach children something new everyday. He was known for being very calm.

Bob Keeshan won six Emmy awards and three Peabodys for his work. He also wrote six books during his years performing as the man everyone knew as Captain Kangaroo.

Black History Month


February is Black History Month in the United States. This year the observance honors the fiftieth anniversary of an important civil rights case. Shep O'Neal reports.


In nineteen-fifty-four, the highest court in the nation ruled that racial separation in public schools violated the Constitution. The case was known as Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka.

Oliver Brown was an African American father who lived in Topeka, Kansas. The city refused to permit his daughter to attend a school near her home. That school accepted only white students. So Mister Brown took legal action.

Many public places were divided by race at that time. It was legal to separate blacks and whites as long as the services were separate but equal. Many towns and cities, for example, had schools for white children and schools for black children.

Thurgood Marshall was the top lawyer for a civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He took the case brought by Oliver Brown and several similar ones to the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall argued that it was impossible to have racial separation and racial equality at the same time. He said that separation made minority students feel of lesser value. He said this affected their ability to learn.

Thurgood Marshall won the case. Schools were forced to educate whites and blacks together.

Thirteen years later, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American justice on the Supreme Court.

Heavy Metal Music


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Bangalore, India. Ravindra Kashyap wants to know about American heavy metal music.

This kind of music has been played for more than thirty years. So there is a lot to tell. But we will mostly let the music speak for itself.


This group became popular in the nineteen-seventies. Alice Cooper was one of the first heavy metal bands in the United States. Its leader, Vincent Furnier, was famous for his wild concert appearances.

Heavy metal music often has long parts with only guitar or drums. The songs may sound out of control at times. But they often depend on simple three-chord melodies. "Enter Sandman" by Metallica is one example.


"Enter Sandman" was a huge hit when it was released in nineteen-ninety-one. Metallica is still popular. In fact, the group is nominated for a Grammy Award this Sunday for this song, "Saint Anger."


Heavy metal music has risen and fallen in popularity many times. Other musical styles have developed from it. Another Grammy nominee this year is the band Korn. That group is considered "Nu Metal." We leave you with the song that Korn is nominated for, "Did My Time."


HOST: This is Doug Johnson.

If you have a question about American life, send it to 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.

Our program was written by Caty Weaver and Jill Moss, and produced by Caty Weaver. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA's radio magazine in Special English.