Florida Archives - StoryCorps

A Teen Asks Her Mom: ‘When Can I Wear The Hijab?’

Like any 14-year-old Dana Aljubouri is navigating the rites of passage on her journey to adulthood. Dana, a devout muslim living in Jacksonville, FL, is eager to begin covering her hair. To her, the hijab demonstrates her pride for her religion and her family’s culture. But her mother, Basma Alawee doesn’t think she’s ready.

Basma Alawee and Dana Aljubouri pose for a selfie in Jacksonville, Florida. 2022. 

The family came to the U.S. from Iraq in 2010, when Dana was not yet two years-old. Since then, Basma has been made to feel uncomfortable, even unsafe, while wearing her hijab in public spaces in Florida. She worries about her daughter, and wants her to wait.

Mother and daughter came to StoryCorps to discuss this important decision.

Top Photo: Basma Alawee and Dana Aljubouri at their StoryCorps interview in Jacksonville, Florida on October 7, 2022. Andrew Avitabile/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 October 21, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.



Without Memory: A Love Story From Two Veterans

Matthew Perry wanted to be a Marine since he was 6-years old. He enlisted around 2005, and by 2008 he was serving in Afghanistan. 

One day, while on duty, he was hit by three IEDs in the course of a single day. But the lasting impacts of his traumatic brain injuries wouldn’t be felt until years later.

In 2010, while on leave from the Marines, a friend would introduce him to a college student named Helen. The two became inseparable after that, and would marry a couple of years later. 

But in 2014, Helen got a call from Kings Bay Naval Base – where Matthew was stationed at the time – with news that something was terribly wrong.

The hands of Helen and Matthew on July 15, 2014, while Matt was in the hospital in Brunswick, GA after his seizures started. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 

Capt. Helen Perry and Sgt. Matthew Perry came to StoryCorps to talk about what happened next.

Helen, Ethan, and Matthew on Jan 5, 2022 at Fort Clinch State park in Florida. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 
Top Photo: Helen and Matthew Perry after Helen’s promotion to Captain in July of 2015, at the Brooke Army Medical Center. Courtesy of Helen Perry. 

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 1st, 2022, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Show ’em Jackie”: Bat Boy Remembers Being On The Field With Jackie Robinson

George Bates grew up in a family of loyal Dodgers fans. One day in 1946, on a trip to Florida, George had the opportunity to see his beloved baseball team as they were conducting Spring training in Daytona Beach.

During that training season, the Dodgers organization debuted the first African American player in Major League Baseball history, Jackie Robinson. His presence was met with mixed reception, but the Bates family wanted to cheer on the newly signed player.

While filing into the stands, George and his brother, Robert, were spotted at random and asked to fill-in as bat boys for the game. George’s father, Robert Bates, Sr., filmed his sons at work, and ended up capturing the oldest known footage of Robinson as a professional player.

At StoryCorps, George sat down with his son, Bill Bates, to remember supporting Robinson’s first steps to making history.

Bill and George Bates, around the time Bill first saw the footage. Courtesy of Bill Bates.

More information about the Bates’ story can be found on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. Film footage courtesy of Bill Bates.

Top Photo: George Bates interacting with Jackie Robinson during a Spring training game in 1946. Courtesy of Bill Bates.

Hear more about Jackie Robinson’s journey to the big leagues in Daytona Beach.

Breaking Baseball’s Color Barrier: How Jackie Robinson Inspired One Man “To Be Somebody”

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he took Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That day is a historic marker for racial progress, but his journey to becoming the first African American player in the majors began in Daytona Beach, Florida — a year earlier.

During the spring of 1946, Robinson was a member of the Montreal Royals, the minor league club for the Dodgers, and he was in Daytona Beach to train. In the segregated South, he couldn’t play on whites-only ballfields with the rest of his team, so he practiced at Kelly Field, a local playground in the Black section of town.

It was at Kelly Field where Harold Lucas, Jr. met Jackie Robinson.

Photo of 6-year-old Harold Lucas, Jr., from 1949. Courtesy of Harold Lucas, Jr.

The Royals were preparing to play a minor league game in Sanford, Florida, but segregation laws — and a mob of threatening townsfolk — prevented Robinson from taking the field. So Black leaders in Daytona Beach stepped in, and gave Robinson a place to play — and an opportunity for Black residents to cheer for him.

Harold Lucas attended Robinson’s first game, and remembered that day at StoryCorps.

Top Photo: D’Lorah Butts-Lucas, Harold Lucas, Jr. and Darryll Lucas after their StoryCorps interview in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 21, 2022.

Hear more about Jackie Robinson’s journey to the big leagues in Daytona Beach.

Originally aired April 15, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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.

The First And Second In Flight — Two Black Women Make Coast Guard History

The U.S. Coast Guard currently has more than 800 pilots. They perform crucial search and rescue missions, often in adverse weather situations.

For 215 years, not a single one of them was a Black woman. 

That was, until Jeanine Menze joined in 2005, becoming the first.

Cmdr. Jeanine Menze, stationed at Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii in 2006. USCG photo by PA2 Jennifer Johnson.

Two years later, she met La’Shanda Holmes and introduced her to the world of flight. La’Shanda would then go on to earn her own wings, becoming the second.

Lashanda Holmes at Air Station Los Angeles. U.S, in 2010. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers.

Lieutenant Commander La’Shanda Holmes and Commander Jeanine Menze came to StoryCorps to remember that time, and reflect on the impact they’ve made in each other’s lives.

By 2014 there were five Black women pilots in the Coast Guard, nicknamed “The Fab Five”. Since then, that number has gone up, adding a sixth…with more waiting in the wings…

From left to right are Cmdr. Jeanine Menze, MH-65 helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. LaShanda Holmes, HC-144 fixed wing pilot Lt. Angel Hughes, MH-60 helicopter pilot Lt. Chanel Lee, HC-144 fixed wing pilot Lt. Ronaqua Russell. 2019. Photo by Lt.Cmdr. Ryan P Kelley.

Originally aired October 2, 2021 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Top Photo: From left to right, Jeanine Menze and La’Shanda Holmes, at La’Shanda’s flight school graduation at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, FL, in 2010. Courtesy of La’Shanda Holmes.

“You Are Your Brother’s Keeper”: A Marine Opens Up To His Son About 9/11

In August 2000, former Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas was discharged from active duty. One year later, on September 11, 2001, he was compelled to step forward as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, just miles from where he lived. 

Jason grabbed his Marine uniform and sped to Ground Zero, where he spent almost three weeks working as a first responder looking for survivors buried under the debris. 

Jason Thomas at Ground Zero on 9/11. This is one of the images developed by the firefighter who found Jason’s camera at Ground Zero. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Jason — now a Master Sgt. with the Air Force Reserve — came to StoryCorps with his youngest son, Jason Christian Thomas, to talk about the lasting impact that experience had on him. 

This was the first time they spoke about the details of that day.

Jason Thomas and Jason Christian Thomas in Florida, July of 2020. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.
Top Photo: Jason Thomas at Ground Zero after 9/11. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

Originally aired Sept. 11, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Optimism Never Failed Me:” Former Child Actor and Cuban Refugee Tells Grandson to Keep Dreaming

Growing up in Havana, Cuba, Mario García was a child actor who was featured in commercials, telenovelas, and the 1961 film El Joven Rebelde.

Mario García on the set of the Cuban telenovela, Esta Es Tu Vida. Courtesy of Mario García.

That all changed when he had to flee as a refugee during the Castro regime, along with 14,000 Cuban children under Operation Peter Pan. In February 1962, he boarded a plane to live with his aunt and uncle in Miami, where he went from learning his lines to learning English.

Mario went on to start a family and become a successful journalist and though he had to put his acting career aside, he never gave up on returning to the screen. Now in his early 70s, Mario continues to audition and was an extra in the film In the Heights. Mario’s grandson, Maximilian García, has inherited his grandfather’s passion for acting.

At StoryCorps, Max asked his grandfather about how he got his start on screen.

Top Photo: Dr. Mario García and his grandson, Maximilian García. Courtesy of Mario García.

This interview is part of the Tapestry of Voices Collection 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 July 30th, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Military Mother Remembers Her Son Who Died By Suicide

Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen grew up in a military family, and followed the family tradition when he enlisted during his early 20s. He served for three years, including a deployment to Iraq with the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

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After returning stateside, he lived with his wife and their two sons while stationed in Washington. Two years later — on August 2, 2012 — he died by suicide. That year saw the highest rate of active-duty military suicides ever recorded — more soldiers died from suicide than combat.

His mother, Cathy Sprigg, sat down with StoryCorps in Tampa, Florida to remember him.

Top photo: Cathy Sprigg with her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, at Tampa International Airport in 2010. Allen was headed back to Iraq  after being on leave for the birth of his son. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.
Bottom photo: Cathy Sprigg and her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, dancing at his wedding in 2009. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally aired May 26, 2018, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. It was rebroadcast on May 28, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“We Mesh Together Like One”: A Miami Love Story

In 1971 George Ju was running a Chinese restaurant in Miami, Florida. George was born in China and immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he settled in Miami, and this is where he met Angela Rivas.

One night, while attending her friend’s engagement party, Angela met George, who was cooking for the event. George was immediately smitten, and there began their journey of love and laughter.

Angela Ju and George Ju in Los Angeles, California Chinatown, in 1988. Courtesy of MJ Moneymaker.

George and Angela Ju came to StoryCorps, nearly 50 years later, to talk about falling in love and staying in love.

Top Photo: Angela Ju and George Ju at their StoryCorps interview in Spring Hill, Florida on October 21, 2018. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.

Originally aired March 19, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.