On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people: federal workers, people applying for social security cards, and 15 of the 21 children in the America’s Kids day care center. One of those children had just had her first birthday the day before.
Two days after the bombing, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that Timothy McVeigh had been arrested for the attack. McVeigh was a white supremacist, anti-government terrorist. He’d timed the bombing for the second anniversary of the federal raid in Waco, Texas, which ended with the Branch Davidian compound burning and 76 people dead.
But in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Oklahoma City, as the whole world speculated about who might have done it, the Waco connection didn’t draw much attention. Instead, the focus shifted to the Middle East, and to American Muslims.
The first episode of the new season of Slate’s podcast One Year tells the story of a U.S. citizen whose life was upended during that frenzy. Ibrahim Ahmad had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bombing. But he’d be detained and interrogated, and the media would connect his name to one of the most horrific crimes in American history.
That’s the first of seven episodes in this season of One Year, Slate’s series about the people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. This season focuses on 1995, a year when the country’s technological future began to emerge, and to transform every aspect of American life. It was also a year when DNA evidence transformed the justice system, and when a bilingual pop song took over nightclubs and wormed its way into our brains.
One Year: 1995 premieres on Thursday, with new episodes debuting weekly. Read below for a preview of three more episodes from this season. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And Slate Plus members get special bonus material that goes into even more depth on the topics we’re exploring this season. If you’re not a member, join for only $1 for your first month.
Fake Oxford: Dozens of smart, driven American students think they’ve been admitted to the world’s most prestigious educational institution. When they get to England, they discover they’re … somewhere else. How’d they get duped, and whose fault was it?
The Spot: The first “show” on the web, an interactive Melrose Place–style soap opera, becomes a surprise hit, with dedicated fans unsure if it’s fact or fiction. Will it become a cash cow and the template for online entertainment?
Stolen Eggs: A California fertility clinic uses an innovative procedure to help couples get pregnant. But when whistleblowers expose a horrible secret about the clinic’s methods, a group of women learn they have biological children they never knew existed.