Atlanta Archives - StoryCorps

“It Feels Like a Gift”: How Taking a Name Kept One Man’s Legacy Alive

In 1981, the death of 21-year-old Cameroonian man Acha Mbiwan devastated his family. Losing Acha — known for his mischievous sense of humor and prodigious intelligence — sent shockwaves through the family’s tight-knit community.  

For more than 40 years, they found it difficult to even speak about Acha. But little did they know that Acha had befriended an American man in college named Atiba, who was so moved by Acha’s death that he took his friend’s last name, Mbiwan, as a tribute.

In 2012, Acha’s sisters Didi Ndando and Egbe Monjimbo learned of Atiba’s existence after stumbling across him on the internet. All three sat down for StoryCorps to talk about what happened next.

This story was adapted from the StoryCorps Podcast. To hear the full story, listen to the episode: “One Who Is Understanding

Top Photo: Didi Ndando, Atiba Mbiwan, and Egbe Monjimbo at a reunion for Atiba’s family in Atlanta in 2014. Courtesy of Egbe Monjimbo.
Middle Photo: Acha Mbiwan posing in a photo booth in 1980 in Paris, France. Courtesy of Egbe Monjimbo.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally aired December 2, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition

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One Who Is Understanding

Family names bind one generation to the next. But what if that name is lost? In this episode, a grieving family learns their legacy is being kept alive by a stranger from far away.
Artwork by Lyne Lucien.
Released on November 22nd, 2022.

Your support makes it possible for StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit, to collect, archive, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds because everyone’s stories deserve to be heard.

Donate

In A House Full Of Rules, Cousins Remember A Rare Glimpse Of Freedom

In the early 1980s, Monica Jordan and her family moved in with her great aunt in Atlanta. That’s where she and her cousin, LaTonya Walker, developed a bond that made them more like sisters.

With two moms raising them under one roof, there were plenty of rules. Church was required every Sunday and no one got to play unless all of their chores were done.

At seven and nine years old, Monica and LaTonya dreamed of the day where they could spend a day doing whatever they wanted. And one particular afternoon, that’s exactly what they did.

Monica and LaTonya came to StoryCorps to remember their rare glimpse of freedom.

Top Photo: Monica Jordan and LaTonya Walker at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on May 30th, 2021 for StoryCorps.

Originally aired Friday, April 1, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sisters Remember Growing Up In Their Parents’ Hollywood Laundry Business

In the 1940s, Siu Fong Yee Wong and Moon Tung Wong — also known as Frank — immigrated from China with their firstborn daughter, Suzi, and opened up a laundry business on Melrose Avenue, right in the center of Hollywood.

The Wong kids (Suzi, Eddie, Donna & Warren Wong) with a World Book Encyclopedia set in the early 1960s. Courtesy of the Wong family.

As Frank and Siu Fong Yee saved up for a house, the growing family lived in the back of the laundry.

It was a cozy setup: behind the business, the family carved out a living space. Their bedroom, play area and living room were all rolled into one, and the kitchen space doubled as a study and wash room.

Suzi and Donna Wong at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta on March 15, 2022. By Hillery Rink for StoryCorps.

Sisters Suzi and Donna came to StoryCorps in 2013 and then again in 2022 to share stories of what it was like growing up just minutes from all the big movie studios in Hollywood, California… but a world away.

Siu Fong Yee Wong and Frank Moon Tung Wong, before their laundry closed in late 1984. Courtesy of the Wong family.

Originally aired March 25, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Listen to Suzi and Donna’s story on the StoryCorps Podcast.

“He Created His Own Destiny”: Siblings Remember Their Video Game Pioneer Dad

Engineer Gerald Lawson was always fascinated with how things worked. 

He went from tinkering with TV parts as a young teen to helping lead the team that created the first ever home video game system that used interchangeable game cartridges. 

His invention allowed people to collect and play different games on the same system. It was one of the greatest technological innovations in the field — paving the way for a multi-billion dollar industry.

Lawson’s pioneering spirit also influenced the way he raised his two children, Anderson and Karen Lawson in 1970s Silicon Valley.

The Lawson Family: Catherine, Gerald, Anderson and Karen. Circa 1975. Courtesy of the participants.

Growing up, they remember a home filled with state-of-the-art technology — like an early digital clock and some of the first home computers. They came to StoryCorps to reflect on their unforgettable childhood and their father’s colossal personality.

Anderson, Gerald and Karen Lawson. 1973. Courtesy of the participants.
Top Photo: Anderson and Karen Lawson at their StoryCorps recording in Atlanta, GA in 2015. By Diana Guyton for StoryCorps.

Originally aired September 17, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

‘My Way of Serving’: An Airline Worker Finds His Calling Honoring The Military’s Fallen

Brian McConnell has been an airline worker for nearly four decades. Much of that time was spent working “the ramp” at the Atlanta airport — the area where aircrafts are refueled, boarded and loaded. But in 2005, after witnessing the work of the Delta Honor Guard — a group of volunteers who handle extremely personal cargo — he found a new calling.

At StoryCorps, Brian told his wife, Nora, about the moment everything changed, and how he’s found a sense of purpose by honoring the military’s fallen.

This story was recorded in partnership with Delta Air Lines.

Top Photo: Nora and Brian McConnell at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14, 2016. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.

Originally aired October 17, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. 

Together, Mother And Daughter Social Workers Face New Challenges During Pandemic

In 2018, Michelle Huston and her daughter Lauren Magaña came to StoryCorps in Atlanta to talk about their shared calling: helping people in the last stages of their lives.

Two years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle and Lauren returned to have a conversation over StoryCorps Connect about how their usually very intimate jobs have changed due to the lockdown caused by the virus.

Top Photo: Michelle-Dawne Hudson and Lauren Magaña at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, GA on August 21, 2018. By Hillery Rink for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Michelle-Dawne Huston and her daughter Lauren Magaña working together at a nursing home in 2018.

Originally aired October 2, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“Untangling The Code”: How Losing Relatives to Cancer Inspired A Life’s Work

By the time Hadiyah-Nicole Green was 4 years old, she had lost her mother and her grandparents. Hadiyah-Nicole and her brothers went to live with her Auntie Ora Lee Smith and Uncle Gen Lee in St Louis, Missouri.

When she was in her early 20s, both Hadiyah-Nicole’s aunt and uncle were diagnosed with different forms of cancer. At 22 years old, she became the primary caregiver to the couple that had raised her.

Photo: “Auntie” Ora Lee Smith and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green.

Watching these two important people have their lives upended by cancer and its effects inspired Hadiyah-Nicole to dedicate her life to fighting the disease.

She came to StoryCorps with her cousin, Tenika Floyd, to reflect on her aunt and uncle, and the impact that their lives had on her.

Today, Dr. Green has successfully developed technology that has killed cancer in laboratory mice, without the use of chemotherapy and radiation, and without any observable side effects. Her work is in the process of moving forward into human trials.

Dr. Green is an Assistant Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. She also founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in honor of her late aunt.

Top Photo: Hadiyah-Nicole Green and Tenika Floyd at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on January 28, 2017. By Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.

The Boy From Troy: How Dr. King Inspired A Young John Lewis

As a young man, John Lewis was inspired by the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At StoryCorps, Congressman Lewis told his friend Valerie Jackson how he met Dr. King, and went from “the boy from Troy” to a civil rights leader in his own right. 

Top photo: John Lewis and Valerie Jackson at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, GA on February 20, 2018. By Daniel Horowitz Garcia for StoryCorps.

Originally aired January 17, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

How a Jewish Man from Georgia Became Santa Claus

There are many ways to celebrate the holidays. While some light the Hannukah candles, some decorate Christmas trees. And for some, well, they do a little bit of both.

This is a story about an out-of-the-ordinary Santa. His real name is Rick Rosenthal. He also happens to be Jewish (Modern Orthodox, to be precise).

Santa Rick came to StoryCorps with an old friend and mentee, Adam Roseman, to talk about how he found his calling.

RosenthalExtra2

In addition to his day-to-day work as Santa, Rick started and now runs one of the largest Santa schools in the country.

Top photo: Adam Roseman and Rick Rosenthal pose after their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, GA in September 2018. By Brenda Ford for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Rick Rosenthal poses in full Santa regalia. Courtesy Rick Rosenthal.

Originally aired December 7, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.