I love jump roping. It’s one of those things that can, in a heartbeat, take me back to childhood and make me burst with pure joy – like jumping on the bed or eating a giant ice cream sundae. That’s why I mostly think of jump roping as a recreational activity, at most a way to get a little exercise or train for other sports. Until I met Ho Ting Lam, that is. He came to the San Francisco StoryBooth with his teacher at San Francisco International High School, Elizabeth de Rham, aka “Ms. Elizabeth.” (more…)
When StoryCorps Atlanta thinks of its few “regulars,” Dave Hayward’s name is right at the top. Through his organization, Touching Up Our Roots: Georgia’s LGBT History Project Initiative, Dave is committed to capturing the stories of Atlanta’s sizable LGBTQ community, and he has recorded a whopping 14 conversations with StoryCorps Atlanta since we opened in October 2009. Dave describes Touching Up Our Roots as an LGBT history project that “preserves, promotes, and publicizes the contributions LGBT people have made, and make to, civil rights, civic and neighborhood organizations, and culture in Atlanta and in Georgia.” Equally important, he advocates the value of preserving these stories and exemplifies the StoryCorps mission, “to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”Through his organization, Dave has had conversations with an impressive variety of Atlantans who identify as LGBTQ. One of his earliest conversations was with Greg Daugherty. Greg talked about growing up in Black Mountain, NC (just outside Asheville), coming out, and losing his long-time partner. Greg also talked about living in Atlanta since 1978–playing softball for sixteen years with Atlanta’s first gay softball team, the Blue Knights; working at the Academy Theater as a performer and house manager; helping to organize endless numbers of AIDS fundraisers; and, for the past fourteen years, owning a publishing company that publishes the Atlanta Show Guide as well as other theater programs and playbills. Of his StoryCorps experience, Greg recently said, “I wasn’t there (in the booth) just for myself. I realized as I was talking that I needed to leave something for those coming behind me, the younger LGBTQ generation.” (more…)
Eli Clare (above left) arrived at the booth with his recording partner, Aimi Hamraie (above right), an Emory graduate student who uses Eli’s books as teaching tools in her classes. Eli’s books, The Marrow’s Telling: Words in Motion, and Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation, look at the body, queerness, disability, race, gender and sexuality in ways not explored before.
Barely 15 minutes into the conversation, Aimi read a quote from Eli’s book, Exile and Pride, “Our bodies are not merely blank slates upon which the powers that be write their lessons. We cannot ignore the body itself, the sensory, mostly non-verbal, experience of our hearts and lungs, muscles and tendons, telling us and the world who we are.” Using this quote as the backdrop, Aimi asked Eli what his earliest memory of his body was, and what his sensory experience of the world had told him about who he is. (more…)
The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi is one of 10 museums and libraries awarded with the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Services. StoryCorps Facilitator John White and I made the trip south to provide the museum with one part of their reward: three Door-to-Door recording days.
We had a great time wandering inside the museum during our lunch hour, lucky to enjoy its many exhibits, like The Orient Expressed and Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders. But while walking the halls of The Mississippi Story, an ongoing exhibit, we got a surprise: Hanging on the wall was the portrait of one of our own participants, called “Tee.”
StoryCorps’ Door-to-Door Department visited Madison, WI, to record at the 50 Years of PeaceCorps in Africa Conference. Friends María Moreno and Ephrat Livni are two returning Peace Corps volunteers who recorded an interview with us during a break in activities.
María, a Bronx, NY, native and professor in Madison, served in Mauritania, a North African Muslim community in the desert. After spending some time at her site, María rehearsed a comment about the moon in the local language; the moon was to be full that night, which she hoped to bring to everyone’s attention. When evening broke she and her hosts sat watching in awe of the moon’s light. “The United States sent a man there,” she said in her broken dialect and pointing to the moon. Her host father asked, “Now why would they do that?”
Peter White Public Library in Marquette, MI, was one of the ten libraries and museums honored with a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Services. Their award includes three days of Door-to-Door interviews, and Facilitator Gaspar Caro and I trekked the snowy shores of Lake Superior to record them.
We realized our time in the Upper Peninsula would be special when on the night before the recordings started, the library held a reception celebrating their IMLS National Medal and the arrival of StoryCorps, complete with a beautiful cake!
We recorded conversations with a grandfather and grandson whose family has used the Peter White Public Library for four generations, best friends who remembered having a little too much fun on some nights before working at the library, two writers and professors who overcame their fears of public speaking, and many more. Check out the faces of Marquette, MI, in the slideshow below.
Best friends Victoria Hyde and Lorraine “Stormy” Johnson recently got together at the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to talk about their friendship.
They met when Lorraine was in her husband Al’s band. “You didn’t like me”, quips Lorraine. “You thought I was frumpy. ” Victoria laughs. “I didn’t dislike you. I just thought you were boring!” Once they started talking they never stopped. They shared similar family stories, growing up with their grandmothers in Jamaica just one parish apart. (more…)
Earlier this year, we were delighted when Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents California’s 12th District, was able to take time out of her undoubtedly hectic schedule to come to the San Francisco StoryBooth to record a conversation with her longtime friend and advisor, Brian Perkins. The two talked candidly about her life, career, and harrowing near-death experience as a young aide to the late Congressman Leo Ryan, who was killed in 1978 on an investigative Congressional trip to look into allegations of people being held against their will at the Jonestown colony in Guyana. Congresswoman Speier, who was also shot in the attack that killed Ryan, was 28 years old when she accompanied him on the fateful trip.
Though she’s now talked publicly many times about the trip and the horrific attack that almost took her life, the images are still vivid in her mind. She recounted having a bad premonition about the trip, but deciding it was worth the risk; investigating the allegations of wrongdoing at Jim Jones’ now infamous colony was of utmost importance to Ryan. In addition, Rep. Speier saw few women at the time in positions of power undertaking such important roles in international affairs. She felt a sense of responsibility to be part of the fact-finding group. What they found at Jonestown was at first “impressive,” she told Mr. Perkins, describing the infrastructure they’d built. Soon, however, the uglier sides of the situation became clear. They were slipped notes from people wanting to escape back to the U.S. She mentioned that Jim Jones was clearly high on speed and other drugs during their meetings with him. (more…)