Forty years ago this month, the groundbreaking cultural phenomenon Free To Be…You And Me found its way into the collective subconscious of children across America.
The brainchild of actress Marlo Thomas, the project included a book, a television special, and an iconic record that – if you were a girl growing up in the seventies – likely got hundreds of plays on the family record player.
Free To Be...You And Me was an immediate commercial success, with the record achieving gold status several times over in the years after its release. Collectively, the album, book, and TV show won Emmy and Peabody awards, earned a Grammy nomination, and special honors from the likes of the National Education Association and the American Library Association. Its impact stemmed from its message of boldly bucking gender and racial stereotypes in a series of songs and skits voiced by an a-list cast, including Alan Alda, Carol Channing, Rosie Greer, and Marlo Thomas herself. Joining us to talk about Free To Be...You And Me, and legacy among those of us that still remember the songs is Laura Lovett. She’s professor of Twentieth Century U.S. Women’s History at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and co-editor of the new book, When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back And At A Children’s Classic And The Difference It Made.