StoryCorps is a “one of a kind” oral history project and sometimes our participants come up with unique and fun ways to describe what we do. We’ve heard “relationship builder,” “new-age museum,” and even “unique date night.”
Ana Maria and Mario Martinez, however, have labeled StoryCorps “the time capsule,” a snapshot in time or the capture of the essence of a moment to be preserved for discovery in the future. At StoryCorps, the couple excitedly chatted about their sweet 11-month old baby girl, Lily. Their plan is to preserve the CD and play it for Lilly on her 18th birthday.
“We might be the only people who know what we are going to be doing on Nov 28, 2030,” jokes Ana Maria Martinez. “This is just so special to us and I know it’s going to be surreal to listen to our emotions and thoughts after 18 years have passed.” Listen to a portion of Ana Maria’s story here!
Similarly, Kendall Brown jokes, “I will come to StoryCorps as long as it will have [me]!” The three-time StoryCorps veteran comes to StoryCorps Atlanta every year during the same month as a way to document his year-to-year journey. Kendall listens to the previous year’s CD right before coming in to record his next story.
“I was adopted so I feel like I had to create my own history,” says Kendall. “StoryCorps offers me a way to do that and to remember what I’ve learned in a year’s time.” Listen to Kendall’s story here!
We want to YOU to have your own unique way to describe StoryCorps! Book an appointment today. Call our reservation line at 800-850-4406.
Posted by Stephanie May 1, 2013 Comments Off
As part of StoryCorps ongoing Military Voices Iniative and in partnership with The Service Project, participants Major Amy McGrath and Major Tegan Owen talk about being Marines and one of the first women in combat (McGrath).
She recalls watching a documentary as a 12 year old girl in Kentucky that inspired her to fly air craft carrier fighter jets. There McGrath’s journey began. There were obstacles. After learning of the combat exclusion law she wrote letters to her local congressman, senator and house armed services committee members, asking them to change the law so that she could fulfill her dream to be a fighter pilot. None of them said she could be a pilot, one said there were a lot of other jobs in the military that she could pursue, perhaps nursing. The dream carried her to the Naval Academy. Good fortune followed McGrath there. At the end of 1993 congress repealed the combat exclusion law, opening many of the jobs that had previously excluded women. After graduation from the academy, she was commissioned as a Marine and began flight school. She became the first woman Marine aviator to fly in Afghanistan.
“A lot of people ask me if it’s harder being a woman flying? I don’t think it is. I just try to take it in stride”.
She continued, “what the guys were looking for is ‘what does she do when she fails?’ Once they found out that I’m gonna pick up and learn from that mistake and move on and do better next time, they were ok. There is pressure but you just have to know about it and deal with it”.
Posted by John April 24, 2013 Comments Off
In early February, Door-to-Door escaped winter in New York City and went to record interviews with the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Florida. The museum was a 2012 recipient of a national medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Through the interviews, we got a look at the many wonderful aspects of the museum’s programming. From artists to volunteers; educators to musicians; and students to curators, we heard about how MOCA has worked to make contemporary art accessible for people across Miami.
On our last morning, Jill Hernandez and Anya Wallace, good friends and coworkers, came in to talk about their role in Women on the Rise. As a young woman and art student, Jill had become passionate about feminist art, at one point making a film about the experiences of women in Miami. After graduating from college, she went to work at MOCA. One morning, Jill heard a story on the radio about an increase in the number of young women being detained in juvenile justice centers, and decided that she wanted to start doing programming at some of those centers.
As Jill began going to the detention centers, she was nervous, because she didn’t have a clear-cut plan or agenda. However, “things just happened” as she started to meet the young women there and talk about the artists whose work she would present to them. Their reactions, she says, were the best part, as the girls were bringing a wide range of experiences to their readings of the images. She remembers that the conversations they had “not only showed me what the art could teach the girls, but how the girls challenged what the work is, or what I think about what the work is.” The second year of the program, they received a grant from the Women’s Fund Network, and it began to take off.
Jill and Anya met later, at a Women’s Studies conference, and found instant friendship. Anya had been working with young women in Savannah, Georgia, and remembered feeling that their meeting was serendipitous. Anya was also surprised by finding someone who shared her feminist perspective “not just on working with girls, but how we connect with them.” Shortly after meeting, Jill offered Anya a position at Women on the Rise. When they began to talk about their favorite memories from their work at the program, it turned out they shared quite a few. Reflecting on their work, Jill said, “I know it feels good to write something. I know it feels good to make something. I want to give girls a space and a reason to do that.”
Posted by Katie April 24, 2013 Comments Off
As part of our ongoing Military Voices Initiative, StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters in Washington, DC to record stories in partnership with the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), a non-profit that provides support, advocacy, education and outreach for partners and children of LGBT service members — including families of service members on active duty, in the reserves, national guard, and veterans.
During our stay in DC, I met Allyson Robinson, who came to StoryCorps with her wife Danyelle and shared her story of coming out as a transgender woman and, in her own words, eventually living a life with honesty reflecting who she truly is.
Allyson, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, spoke about having to suppress her feelings of who she really was throughout her Military career. During her time at West Point, she said she was in denial and would overwork to suppress her needs to express herself as a woman and felt guilty whenever she did. “I lied and I hid a lot. I kept a suitcase inside another suitcase in a a trunk room at West Point where I would keep some clothes and make up,” she said.
Allyson spoke about contemplating suicide as the only way out before realizing she had to “live life with honesty, quit fighting and just be,” she added. This is when she decided to come out to her wife, who she was married to since 1994, and their four children.
Her wife, Danyelle, talked about what went through her mind as her then husband came out to her as a transgender woman. ” I remember being bewildered and knowing it was better to know, but at that point I didn’t know what it meant. There were questions out there that I didn’t know”.
Danyelle said she admired Allyson’s honesty and stood by her side. “I let time work through all of the questions and details.” She explained how their four kids were accepting and how easy they took it. “They were wonderful, they were the easiest part.”
Allyson explained what she feared the most through the years, which was to lose her family, did not happen after she came out and how glad she is of it. She took the opportunity to thank her wife for sticking by her side throughout the difficult transition.
In 2012, after serving four years as first Deputy Director for Employee Programs at Human Rights Campaign, Allyson Robinson became the executive director of OutServe-SLDN, a leading advocacy organization serving active-duty LGBT members of the military and veterans. She lives in Maryland with her wife and four children.
Posted by Luis April 23, 2013 Comments Off
StoryCorps met Leslie Salazar and Bill Sears during a recording trip to Los Angeles, California. Leslie and Bill met at Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center when Bill, a cardiac patient liaison , formed a friendship with Ruben Salazar, Leslie’s father. Leslie and Bill came to StoryCorps to remember Ruben’s life and his final moments.
Leslie reflected on Ruben’s life and the legacy he leaves behind for his family.
“My dad was a phenomenal man, the son of a immigrant father. My dad created everything on his own, from the time he was 18 he had nothing. He broke a cycle of drug addiction, alcoholism and gang violence and created an amazing family tree that will continue to flourish.”
“You also told me how he sang in the desert at nighttime.” Bill spent a lot of time with Ruben in his room, listening to stories of his military service and career as an air-traffic controller. Bill became an adopted member of Ruben’s family, learning about the family’s traditions.
“That’s the one thing I miss, he would play guitar and ukelele.” Leslie recalled, “he taught us all Mexican Folk songs.”
Ruben passed away at Cedar Sinai medical center and the family guided him through his last moments, being present as he took his last breathe. Leslie and her family sang Ruben’s folk songs in the hospital after his passing and later had a bonfire and send off for him on his favorite beach in California.
“I think if your dad was looking down he’d say wow, how proud he is of you.”
“I think he is very proud of his family”
Though it was the difficulty of losing that brought Leslie and Bill together, their friendship remains strong and they continue to bond over the memories they share.
StoryCorps Legacy provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve and share their stories.
Posted by Jorge April 22, 2013 Comments Off
It has been an exciting semester for Wendy Adams’ service learning oral history class at The College of Central Florida. The course focused on the art of storytelling, and Wendy used the StoryCorps’ motto, “listening is an act of love,” as the backdrop for their studies.
After practicing with mini-recording sessions in the classroom, ten students, along with Wendy, traveled nearly 6 hours to StoryCorps Atlanta in order to record their own StoryCorps interviews.
“The StoryCorps’ experience enhanced my understanding of my friend Daniel, whom I interviewed. I learned that we have so much in common,” said student Nicole Gomez.
Upon returning to Florida, the students wrote about their experiences for a final assignment. One student provided this insightful reflection:
“I always remind people that I have a horrible memory. That if you tell me something, or want me to do something you need to have me write it down and remind me or I will forget, but when I walked into that soundproof room at StoryCorps, I proved myself wrong. The memories just started to flow, straight from my photographic memory almost playing out like a movie in my head.”
Thanks College of Central Florida for the visit!
Posted by Stephanie April 10, 2013 Comments Off
From January 27-29, more than 3,400 people filed into Hilton Atlanta to attend The 25th National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference. StoryCorps Atlanta was represented among the hustle and bustle as LGBTQ advocates and their families stopped by our makeshift space to record amazing stories of courage, love, and hopes for the future.
The conference was particularly special because it also marked the 40th anniversary of the large nonprofit, offering some participants the chance to reminisce on how far their cause has come in recent years. Pat Hussain, an Atlanta native, grew up during the Civil Rights movement and reminisced on a time when she felt unaccepted as an African American lesbian woman. After witnessing a Black youth being doused with hot coffee in the 1960′s during a sit in at a lunch counter, she fled out of fear of being unable to remain non-violent. (more…)
Posted by Stephanie April 4, 2013 Comments Off
When Kimberly Fierra enters a room, her smile precedes her. The bubbly 18-year old came to StoryCorps Atlanta decked out in 6-inch heels, flowing brown hair, and a proud sash that read “Miss Teen GA Latina.” All that was missing was the crown.
As part of StoryCorps’s Historias Initiative, a project which aims to record, share and preserve the stories of Latinos in the United States, StoryCorps Atlanta is partnering with the Miss GA Latina Pageant. Kimberly came in with her friend, Karla Figueroa, to chat about the fascinating world of sashes and crowns.
“Let me tell you– pageants look so easy, but they’re not,” half-jokes Sierra before reflecting. “I can’t believe that I’m representing Latino Americans in the state of Georgia…I want girls to look at me and see that they can do it, too.”(more…)
Posted by Stephanie March 26, 2013 Comments Off