District of Columbia – StoryCorps

One Veteran Shares Lessons Learned From War And His Return Home

In 1942, Nazim Abdul Karriem was drafted into WWII at the age of 18. Like many young men at the time he had a deep sense of obligation and commitment to fight for his nation.

As  a Black man, he was put into a segregated unit that was deployed to Europe. Nazim spent four years in the field, ultimately surviving the battles of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

Sheikh Nazim Abdul Karriem with his wife, Virginia A Karriem, soon after the war ended. Courtesy of Dr. Vardana Karriem.

Nazim was shipped back to the United States in 1946. But what he found upon returning was not what he expected for a decorated veteran. He came to StoryCorps, at the age of 96 to talk about these experiences and the path he began when he came home.

Top Photo: Sheikh Nazim Abdul Karriem at his StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2017. By Olivia Cueva for StoryCorps.

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 February 25, 2023 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

Two Love Birds Bring The Holiday Spirit To The White House

Growing up in Piura, Peru Hugo Sánchez always noticed his classmate, Marité. But despite his best efforts she didn’t return his feelings. Hugo left Peru for the U.S. with his family at the age of 13, but returned for a summer vacation three years later.

This time, there was a spark. The two kicked up a whirlwind romance, but they were ripped apart as he returned to the states.  

Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez in 2007 in Urbana, IL. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

In 2022 the couple had been married for 15 years and through Marité’s work as an expert crafter they were selected to volunteer as White House holiday decorators. Every holiday season, people from across the country are invited by First Lady Jill Biden to decorate the White House.


Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at the White House Decorating Event in Washington, D.C. in November 2022. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

Hugo and Marité Sánchez took a break from wreath making and tinsel spreading to record a conversation with StoryCorps.


Top Photo: Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at their StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on November 27, 2022. By Bella Gonzalez for StoryCorps.

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 23, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

With your support, StoryCorps is able to record more stories that help lift up underrepresented voices, bridge political and social divides, and preserve personal histories for the future.


The Women Behind The Men – James Brown’s Backing Singers Look Back on Life’s Choices

As a kid growing up in the late 1950s, Sandra Bears used to sit at the top of her basement steps, and watch her older brother’s singing group practice. She and her girlfriends decided they wanted to do the same thing, so they started their own group.

By the time they got to Roosevelt High School, in Washington, D.C., they were recording songs together. One day, they held an audition for a new member, and that’s when they met 16-year-old Martha Harvin. She hit her first note in harmony with the girls… and the rest is history.

3 out of 4 of the members of the girl group “The Jewels” (Sandra Bears, Grace Ruffin, and Martha Harvin pose for a Dimension Records publicity portrait in 1964 in New York, New York. Photo by James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Image.

The girls started performing out across the country, and they eventually were invited to a one week show for up and coming artists at the Apollo Theater. Every night they got a standing ovation, but one special night changed the course of their lives.

Martha High performing with James Brown.

Sandra and Martha came to StoryCorps in 2022, to look back on that time, their life choices, and their lasting friendship.

Top Photo: Martha High in Amsterdam, and Sandra Bears in Washington D.C., at their virtual StoryCorps interview on May 14, 2022, for StoryCorps.

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 16th, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

50 Years After Watergate, The White House Staffer Who “Kept His Integrity Intact”

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at  the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. One was a former employee of the CIA.

As the senate select committee began looking into President Richard Nixon’s involvement, a Republican staffer blew the lid off that investigation by revealing a treasure trove of evidence. 

A few years earlier, at Nixon’s request, Alexander Butterfield — a deputy assistant to the president and former Air Force Colonel — had overseen the installation of a voice activated taping system that secretly recorded all of Nixon’s conversations in the Oval Office and other key locations. Butterfield was told the elaborate recording system was for the purpose of gathering archival material for the Nixon Library, but no one who met with the president was made aware of the devices. Those recordings would eventually provide evidence of Nixon’s involvement in the attempted cover-up of the Watergate break in. The president resigned shortly after.  

Butterfield spoke with his friend Tom Johnson about what led to his testimony.

Top Photo: Alexander Butterfield testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee on July 16, 1973. By the Associated Press. 
Middle Photo: Alexander Butterfield and Tom Johnson at their StoryCorps interview in Austin, TX on April 27, 2016. By Jhaleh Akhavan for StoryCorps. 

The original interview took place through a partnership with the 2016 Vietnam War Summit, hosted by the LBJ Presidential Library and The University of Texas at Austin. 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 September 30, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“The Rug Was Swept Out From Under Me”: A 9/11 Survivor From The Pentagon Shares Her Story

Tesia Williams was one of the first in her family to go to college.

Shortly after graduating, she got a job at the Pentagon, and was working as a public affairs specialist when on September 11, 2001, one of four hijacked planes crashed into the building, claiming the lives of 184 victims.

At StoryCorps, her teenage daughter, Mikayla Stephens, learned some new things about what Tesia went through and how the events of that day would eventually shape both of their lives.

Left image: Tesia Williams with daughters Mikayla, Harper and Arissa Stephens, and husband Jamel Stephens, in Washington D.C., in 2018. Right image: The family in 2008, shortly after Mikayla and Arissa arrived in Tesia’s care.



Top Photo: Mikayla Stephens and Tesia Williams at their StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on August 27, 2021. By Clean Cuts Studios for StoryCorps.

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 Sept. 9, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Love and Skating: One Family That’s Rolled Through Six Generations

When Temica Hunt was growing up in Washington D.C. she was introduced to the jumping, whirling, bopping world of roller skating. She’s the fifth generation in her family to take up the pastime. Her mother, Necothia Bowens-Robinson, would bring Temica with her to the rink every chance they got, not for your typical sweet roll around the rink but more like a dance party on wheels. This brand of skating includes impressive tricks, spectacular moves and plenty of style.

Necothia Bowens-Robinson and Temica Hunt at the Crystals Skate Palace in 2009. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson.

Necothia has her own memories of learning to skate from her father, David A. Bowens. A loving, hard-working man who “knew how to roll.”

Temica Hunt, about 8 years old, with her grandfather, David A. Bowens. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson. 

Necothia came to StoryCorps with her daughter to reflect on the family’s skating legacy, with Temica now raising the sixth generation of skaters. . .

Temica Hunt with her daughter Kennedi, at Anacostia Skate Pavillion. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson. 
Top Photo: Temica Hunt and Necothia Bowens-Robinson at their StoryCorps interview in Washington D.C. on December 14th, 2021. By Selcuk Selcuk Karaoglan for StoryCorps.

Originally aired December 31st, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition

Dr. Charles Drew: Remembering “The Father of Blood Banks” And His Fatherhood

In the 1940s, Dr. Charles Drew was a prominent surgeon, living with his wife and four children in Washington, D.C. He was a multifaceted man who trained surgeons and physicians, and who also studied and tested the storage of blood and plasma.

Dr. Charles Drew working with his residents at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis.

During World War II, Dr. Drew was recruited to head the Blood for Britain Project. His goal was to discover the safe storage and transport of blood needed on the battlefield. His efforts were successful, and his breakthrough helped preserve the lives of thousands of soldiers.

After the war, Dr. Drew continued his life-saving research, even while the Red Cross maintained a segregation of blood based on race. Dr. Drew fervently argued against the segregation of blood, but he would not live to see the reversal of this policy. He died in a car accident on April 1, 1950, but later that year the Red Cross ended the discriminatory practice.

Ernest Jarvis and Charlene Drew Jarvis in recent years. Courtesy of Ernest Jarvis.

Dr. Drew’s daughter, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, came to StoryCorps with her son, Ernest Jarvis, to remember the man who paved the way for today’s blood banks.

Top Photo: Dr. Charles Drew in his lab. Courtesy of Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis.

Originally aired August 6, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Walter Reed Physical Therapists on the Profound Effects of Their Work

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 1600 men and women lost hands, arms, legs, and feet in battle.

For nearly a decade, Adele Levine and Etaine Raphael worked side by side to ensure those soldiers would be able to navigate life after their injuries. The two women were civilian physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Both Etaine and Adele left Walter Reed in 2014. Today, Adele continues work as a physical therapist at a Maryland hospital, while Etaine has found new work as a preschool teacher.

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Top photo: Etaine Raphael and Adele Levine at their StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on September 19, 2016. 
Middle photo: Adele Levine at work with a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Courtesy of Kyla Dunleavy.
Bottom photo: Adele Levine and Etaine Raphael pose with a physical therapy patient, Rob Jones, who they helped rehabilitate. Jones lost both legs in Afghanistan but went on to compete in the Paralympics for rowing. Courtesy of Etaine Raphael.

Originally aired May 25, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Dion Diamond: Reflections on 60 Years of Civil Rights Activism

In the photo above, taken in the summer of 1960, a young black man sits at a lunch counter in Arlington, Virginia. Two of his fellow protesters sit behind him, and a group of white men surrounds them. A white child sticks a finger in the man’s face. He smirks.

This man is a civil rights activist you probably haven’t heard of. His name is Dion Diamond.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Dion was a bit of a prankster, and spent much of his youth trying to, as he put it, “crash segregated society.”

In another 1960 photo, white protesters picket the integration of a Maryland amusement park. At the end of the line, you can see Dion smiling in defiance as he holds a sign of his own.


Later, as a student activist at Howard University, he appears unbothered while sitting at a lunch counter in the face of members of the American Nazi Party.


At the age of 76, Dion came to StoryCorps to talk about how he got started.


Top photo: Dion Diamond at a sit-in at a “white only” lunch counter in Arlington, VA where a young boy points a finger in his face.
Second photo: Dion Diamond smiles as he marches past a group of white protesters at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD in 1960.
Third photo: George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, confronts Dion Diamond at a “whites-only” lunch counter in Arlington, VA in 1960.
Bottom photo: Dion Diamond at his StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C.

Originally aired January 12, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sylvia Bullock and Marcus Bullock

In the mid-1990s, Reverend Sylvia Bullock was raising two kids on her own near Washington, D.C. while working and going to college full-time.

Her teenage son, Marcus, saw how hard his mother was working — and how little they had — and decided to take matters into his own hands. He and a friend committed a carjacking, and although he was 15 years old, Marcus was tried as an adult. He served eight years for the crime.


Marcus was released in 2004. Since then he has created an app, called Flikshop, that makes it easier for inmates and their families to stay in touch. His mom works for his tech company as Fulfillment Manager and Mom-In-Chief. She received her Doctor of Ministry in 2008.

Originally aired August 11, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Marcus and Sylvia in 2017.
Bottom photo: A Polaroid from one of Sylvia’s visits to Marcus while he was in prison. Courtesy of Sylvia Bullock.