South Carolina – StoryCorps
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“There Was Just Something That Kept Telling Me That You Got To Stick This Out”: Rep. James Clyburn On Success and Failure

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is the highest-ranking African American person in Congress. He has been credited with changing the political landscape of the United States during the 2020 Democratic primary. 

In 2007, he sat down for a StoryCorps interview with his granddaughter Sydney Reed, to tell her about the life lessons he’d learned from his four decades in politics.

Top photo: James Clyburn and his granddaughter, Sydney Reed, at her college graduation from Mississippi State University in May of 2019. Courtesy of Sydney Reed.
Middle photo: Sydney Reed and James Clyburn at their StoryCorps interview in Columbus, SC on February 9, 2007. Photo by Alexandria Wright.

Originally aired February 1, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition. Rebroadcast March 6, 2020, on the same program.

How His Family Farm Helped This Birder Learn To Fly

As a zoologist and ornithologist, Drew Lanham spends many of his days in the company of birds. It’s the way he’s always wanted it to be, ever since growing up on his family farm in South Carolina. 

At StoryCorps, he spoke with his friend John Lane about the childhood that helped his career take flight.

Top photo: Drew Lanham (right) and John Lane at their StoryCorps interview in Clemson, SC on December 9, 2019.  By Eric Rodgers for StoryCorps.

Originally aired December 20, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

As a 10-Year-Old, He Played an Unexpected Role in Apollo 11

In July 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was on its way to the Moon — carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.

Back on Earth, 10-year-old Greg Force was dreaming of going to space himself one day.

Greg’s father, Charles Force, worked on the Apollo missions. The family lived on Guam, home to a massive antenna that connected the astronauts to Mission Control.

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At 60 years old, Greg came to StoryCorps with his 17-year-old daughter, Abby, to remember the little-known role he played in the success of that historic mission.

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Top photo: Greg Force and Abby Force at their StoryCorps interview in Greenville, SC on May 21, 2019. By Alletta Cooper for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Greg Force (second from left) and his three brothers in Guam. Greg says his father chose him to help because his older brother’s hand was too big, and his younger brother would’ve “gotten grease everywhere.” Courtesy of Greg Force.
Bottom photo: 10-year-old Greg Force in 1969, greasing the antenna bearing at the NASA tracking station on Guam. Courtesy of Greg Force.

Originally aired July 19, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Alex Fennell and Janette Fennell

Days before Halloween in 1995, Janette Fennell, her husband Greig, and their 9-month-old son Alex arrived home from a night out with friends. After pulling into the garage of their San Francisco home, they were confronted by two armed men who forced the couple at gunpoint into the trunk of the Fennell’s car and drove away.

During the several-hour ordeal, which the family survived, both Janette and Greig believed that Alex was still in the backseat of the car in his car seat were they had left him.

Fennell2The carjackers were never caught, but Janette and her husband continued to drive the car (pictured at left in a 1999 photo with Alex and his younger brother, Noah, sitting with their parents on the trunk) they were kidnapped in for several years.

Alex, now in college, sat down for StoryCorps with his mom to talk about the experience.

Janette went on to devote herself to improving car safety by founding a nonprofit that lobbies for car safety reform. Due to her efforts, emergency trunk releases are now standard equipment on all new cars. She has also worked on legislation requiring child safe windows and rear view cameras on all cars.

Originally aired October 23, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photos courtesy of Janette Fennell.

Erik Booker and Jenna Power

Erik Booker (left) is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Bates Middle School in Sumter, South Carolina. He served more than 20 years in the United States Army, including two deployments to Iraq.

Last year Jenna Power (right) was a student in Mr. Booker’s class. Like Mr. Booker, her father also served in Iraq as a member of the Army. Without it ever having been spoken, Jenna immediately recognized traits in Mr. Booker that connected him to her father and their shared service.

The two of them sat down at StoryCorps so Jenna could interview her teacher about his time at war.

Originally aired October 16, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.