Richard Durham was born in rural Mississippi on September 6, 1917 and moved to Chicago with his family at the age of six. He would go on to write and produce the groundbreaking Destination Freedom, a radio drama that featured characters calling for equality a decade before the Civil Rights Movement.
During the Depression, Durham found work in the radio division of the WPA-sponsored Illinois Writers Project. He wrote for several local shows in the early 1940s and also worked as an editor and journalist for the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper and Ebony magazine.
After the war, Durham wrote for a weekly drama on WBBM/Chicago called Democracy USA and created the first soap opera focused on an African American family, Here Comes Tomorrow, for WJJD/Chicago.
From 1948 to 1950, Durham used the weekly Destination Freedom to fight the stereotypes of African Americans in the media. His inventive scripts highlighted the accomplishments of black leaders throughout history, including Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and Ida B. Wells. Durham’s recurring theme of social and economic freedom was a revolutionary idea rarely heard on the radio at the time.
Richard Durham died on April 27, 1984.