California Archives - StoryCorps

A Couple Reflects On The Crossroads of Their Relationship

In 1999 Tom Peters met JoAn Joseph at a party for his job. Tom felt obligated to attend, and  JoAn tagged along with a friend who didn’t want to go alone. And yet, they locked eyes from across the room, and danced and talked the night away. 


Tom Peters and JoAn Peters in 2000. Courtesy of Tom Peters.

They fell in love and their relationship moved quickly, even though Tom was much older than JoAn and had already been married twice with three children. But a couple of years into their relationship, they came to a crossroads, and had to make a difficult decision.

Tom Peters and JoAn Peters at their StoryCorps interview in Santa Monica, California on January 6, 2020. By Courtney Gilbert for StoryCorps.

Tom and JoAn came to StoryCorps to reflect on that moment, and their journey since.

Top Photo:  JoAn Peters and Tom Peters in 2001. Courtesy of Tom Peters.

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 January 20, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Separated by Time and Distance, Best Friends Reunited After More Than Three Decades

Pak Yan and Joe Chan grew up in the same neighborhood in Hong Kong. They developed a close friendship, learning to ride bikes without training wheels and walking each other to school every day. Then, in 1962, Joe’s family moved to the U.S., seeking refuge amidst the Great Chinese Famine.

Pak Yan (left) and Joe Chang at a StoryCorps interview in San Francisco on September 18, 2014. By Geraldine Ah-Sue for StoryCorps.

An ocean between them, the two sent handwritten letters weekly via airmail. But after several years, as they moved and their addresses changed, the two lost contact. Pak often wondered what had become of his friend, and when he was 30 years old he also moved to the U.S. Years later—in 2000, when the internet was still relatively new—Pak decided to use Yahoo to search for his friend. He found 108 Joe Chan’s and called them one by one, leaving voice messages until he finally reached Joe on the 104th call.

“It’s like we just picked up where we left off,” Joe said. In 2014, the two men came to StoryCorps to remember their reunion.

Top Photo: Pak Yan (left) and Joe Chan (right) at Friendship Park in Richmond, CA soon after they reunited. The text on the rock reads ‘friendship’ in Chinese. 

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 November 25, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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From the Oscars Stage, She Sacrificed Her Career To Make Way For Indigenous Voices

From a young age, Sacheen Littlefeather knew racism through experience. Her mother was white and her father was of White Mountain Apache and Yaqui heritage. When she was born in Arizona in 1946, mixed-race couples were still illegal there. Raised by her white grandparents, it wasn’t until she went to university that she says she met people she could identify with. 

She began her activism there and continued pressing for equal rights and representation while pursuing a career in the arts.

Her career was forever changed in 1973, when she used what would have been Marlon Brando’s Oscar acceptance speech to call out the treatment of Native Americans and their depiction in Hollywood.

She came to StoryCorps in 2019 to talk about how that historic night changed her life and paved the way for those who came after.

Top Photo: Sacheen Littlefeather at her StoryCorps interview in Novato, California on October 2, 2019. By Rochelle Kwan for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Sacheen Littlefeather at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 27, 1973. By the Associated Press.

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 October 7, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“Mama Was a Daredevil:” The Firefighting Pilot Who Blazed a Path for Women

Mary Barr made history when she became the first woman to fly for the U.S. Forest Service in 1974, a time when few women were professional pilots.

Mary Barr (center) poses with her daughters Molly Barr (left) and Nevada Barr (right). Courtesy of Molly Barr.

She flew a tiny propeller airplane into wildfires across the American West, finding a safe path through the flames so larger tanker aircraft could follow in behind her and dump smothering chemicals on the blaze.

Her daughters Molly and Nevada came to StoryCorps to remember an adrenaline-loving aviator with a hidden side. 

Mary Barr in her U.S. Forest Service uniform. Courtesy of Molly Barr.

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 August 19, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

An Adoptee Reflects On The Mother-Daughter Bond That Carried Her Through the Loss Of Her Birth Family

In 2000, Jami Miyamoto traveled to China during the era of the “One Child” Policy to adopt a 10-month old baby girl. Originally, Jami had the name “Maya” in mind, but after spending time with her daughter, Jami stuck with her given name, Delian, and they use the shortened name of “Daily” today. 

Jami holding 10-month-old Daily in China, June of 2000. Courtesy of Jami Miyamoto.

Daily doesn’t remember when she first learned that she was adopted. Her mother has always talked openly about it. They both hope to know more about Daily’s birth family, and it’s a curiosity that reinforces their bond.

Recently, Daily and Jami came to StoryCorps to reflect on their closeness, and what it means to Daily to look into her past.

Top Photo: Daily and Jami Miyamoto in Santa Monica, CA on July 26, 2022. Courtesy of Daily Miyamoto.

Originally aired Friday, July 29, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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.

Remembering Dr. Tiller: 10 Years After His Murder, A Couple Reflects on His Abortion Care

On May 31, 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church in Wichita, Kansas. He was one of only a handful of doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions.

Rabbi David Young and Cantor Natalie Young had gone to see Dr. Tiller in 2006. They’d been expecting their second son, Elijah, only to learn that he’d developed a brain condition that would make it impossible for him to survive on his own.

Ten years after Dr. Tiller’s death, Natalie and David sat down at StoryCorps to remember how he helped them through the darkest time in their lives.

Dr. George Tiller addresses invited members of the Kansas legislature, at his abortion clinic, Monday, Oct. 6, 1997, in Wichita, Kan. Tiller, who was shot in both arms by a protestor in 1993, and whose clinic was bombed in 1986, as well as the site of massive demonstrations in 1991, led clinic tours for the lawmakers and the press Monday, in an effort to enable the them to understand his practice. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg)

Top photo: Natalie and David Young at their StoryCorps interview in May of 2019. By Kevin Oliver for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Dr. George Tiller speaking at his clinic in 1997. Credit: AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg.

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 Friday, June 24, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“Our Father Taught Us To Love Ourself”: Remembering The Man Who Brought Juneteenth To San Diego

Long before Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S., Sidney Cooper had been celebrating the hallowed day for decades.

Sidney grew up in a predominantly Black town just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Juneteenth celebrations were a common part of his upbringing.

In the early 1950s, Sidney settled down in Southern California, and he became an early Black business owner in a predominantly white area.

Sidney Cooper (center) with his daughter, Lana (left), and his wife, Thelma (right), in front of the Cooper family barbershop and produce stand on Imperial Avenue. Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

Sidney taught his children many lessons on family and community, but he also taught them the importance of celebrating Juneteenth — even when no one else in his community was acknowledging the holiday.

Marla Cooper celebrating at the family’s annual Juneteenth celebration in San Diego. Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

A banner honoring the memory of Sidney Cooper at the family’s annual Juneteenth celebration.
Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

His daughters, Marla and Lana, came to StoryCorps to remember their dad and the legacy he left in his community.

Top Photo: Lana Cooper-Jones and Marla Cooper at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, CA on May 11, 2022 for StoryCorps.

Originally aired Friday, June 17, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“She Had Dreams In Life”: A Remembrance Of Latasha Harlins

We should note that the audio version of this story contains a graphic description of violence.

On April 29th, 1992, the city of Los Angeles erupted into 6 days of uprisings. Over 60 people died, over 2,000 were injured, there was widespread theft and property damage to the area, and thousands of residents took to the streets in protest — the cause widely known to be the acquittal of the four police officers who brutally assaulted Rodney King.

But there was another case that also grabbed the attention of Los Angeles at that time; the killing of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins. On March 16, 1991, Harlins was shot and killed by a store clerk who accused her of stealing. 

Even though Latasha’s killer was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter, a judge allowed her to avoid jail time. It was among the catalysts for the Los Angeles Riots.

Latasha’s sister, Dr. Christina Rogers, and her brother, Vester Acoff, were 8 and 10 years old, respectively, when she was killed. The three children were being raised by their grandmother, Ruth Harlins. 

Latasha’s cousin, Shinese Harlins-Kilgore (left), with Latasha Harlins (right) in 1983. Courtesy of Christina Rogers.

Vester, Ruth, and Christina sat down for StoryCorps, more than 30 years later, to remember Latasha. 

In 1992, the family started the Latasha Harlins Foundation in her name. They aim to make lasting change for low-income and Black families and children in the Los Angeles area.

Latasha Harlins as an early teen. Courtesy of Christina Rogers. 

Bringing Hope and a Love of Horses to L.A. Streets

Ghuan Featherstone grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He has one clear memory of riding a horse for the first time, in Griffith Park, when he was eight years old. It was a feeling that he never forgot, and a lifelong passion was born.

When Ghuan left the military and returned to L.A. years later, he began to immerse himself in the craft of riding and caring for horses. After a tragic fire destroyed his neighborhood stable, Ghuan saw a hole torn into his community. Instead of standing by, Ghuan decided to step forward to found a new stable: Urban Saddles.

Jordan Humphreys riding his horse Winter at the Urban Saddles Stables, in South Gate, California.

He came to StoryCorps with his mentee Jordan Humphreys. At just 13 years old Jordan has become a cornerstone of Urban Saddles.

Top photo: Ghuan Featherstone and Jordan Humphreys at their StoryCorps interview in Los Angeles, California on December 15th, 2021. By Maja Sazdic for StoryCorps.

Originally aired January 28th, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

First Muslim Chaplain In U.S. Armed Forces Recalls His Decades-Long Career Of Supporting Soldiers

Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad joined the United States Army in 1982. Before enlisting, he was a civilian imam in San Diego, CA, and he joined because was attracted to the discipline and values of the military culture there.

In the early 90s, Lt. Col. Muhammad became the first Muslim chaplain in the Armed Forces. In his duties, he consoled the families of fallen soldiers, and offered mental and emotional support to service members dealing with grief.

He came to StoryCorps with his wife, Saleemah Muhammad, to talk about what that was like.

Top Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad and his wife, Saleemah Muhammad. Photo courtesy of the participants.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired November 6, 2021 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.