StoryCorps participants, supporters, and staff celebrated a series of remarkable stories and storytellers at our annual gala Wednesday at Capitale in New York City. The evening, themed “Who We Are: A Celebration of American Stories,” explored our shared and positive humanity through animated shorts and personal stories.
“Who We Are is a little ripple of hope to remind us of our best and truest selves,” said StoryCorps Founder and President Dave Isay, in his remarks to the crowd of more than 300 guests. Through the outstanding leadership and generosity of our supporters, the event raised more than $750,000 for StoryCorps’ continuing work preserving and sharing humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people, and create a more just and compassionate world.
Hosted by two-time Tony Award-winning actor, singer, and musician, Michael Cerveris (pictured above), the program featured recent StoryCorps participants whose personal stories defy intolerance and hate. Among the featured participants were Alex Landau, whose encounter with Denver police in 2009 was the subject of the animated short, “Traffic Stop,” which has been viewed more than 20 million times and received a 2016 Emmy Award.
“StoryCorps creates a platform for narratives that exist in our communities and gives us opportunities to be heard and provides us with the ability to make change,” said Alex Landau, in remarks from the stage following a screening of “Traffic Stop.” He was joined at the event by his mother, Patsy Hathaway.
Chris and Gabe López (pictured above) spoke about the importance of their StoryCorps conversation, in which 8-year-old Gabe discussed coming out as transgender to his mom. Albert Sykes also reflected on the conversation with his son, Aidan, and the opportunity that StoryCorps provided for him to share his hopes and dreams for his son as a Black boy growing up in Mississippi. Mussarut Jabeen talked about being able to share what it means to be a Muslim American and to honor her students who were killed in February 2015 in what has become known as the Chapel Hill shooting.
The event also recognized two honorees: the Ford Foundation, one of StoryCorps’ longest-running and most generous supporters (represented by chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees Kofi Appenteng,pictured above left with his wife, Stephanie), and StoryCorps’ Board of Directors Secretary, Dane E. Homes, and his wife, Barbara (pictured below), who together provide outstanding support and leadership for StoryCorps.
As has become a tradition at StoryCorps events, each table was equipped with a generous supply of tissues, which came in handy as guests listened to heartfelt personal testimonials and viewed animations throughout the evening.