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Uncovering A Family Connection To The Origin Of Kansas City Barbecue

Growing up in Kansas City, Bernetta McKindra was always surrounded by barbecue. But it wasn’t until later in life that she learned more about her grandfather Henry Perry, the man who is credited with creating Kansas City’s iconic barbecue style. 

An advertisement that appeared in the Kansas City Sun in 1917

Bernetta came to StoryCorps with her friend, Raymond Mabion II to talk about her grandfather, and the food legacy he’s passed down.

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 29, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

As Her Memory Dims, One Remarkable Mother Remains A “Beacon of Light”

To mark StoryCorps’ 20th Anniversary we are revisiting classic conversations from the past two decades with updates from the participants.

We end this special series by catching up with one remarkable mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mary Johnson-Roy and her son, Laramiun Byrd. Courtesy of Mary Johnson-Roy.

Mary Johnson-Roy lost her only child, Laramiun Byrd, to gun violence in 1993.

One night while at a party, Laramiun got into a fight with another teenager named Oshea Israel. The fight ended when Oshea shot and killed Laramiun.

A dozen years later, Mary went to the penitentiary to visit the man who murdered her son.

Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson-Roy in 2011 and in 2023. By Gaspar Caro and Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.

Soon after Oshea finished serving a prison sentence for murder, Mary brought him to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship. We’ll also hear from them 12 years later.

Mary founded From Death to Life, an organization to help families who have lost children to gun violence, and has spent decades running support groups. But she’s had to step back a bit from her life’s work, after being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Mary Johnson-Roy and her husband, Ed Roy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota  in 2023. By Brian Mogren for StoryCorps.

Since her diagnosis in 2021, Mary’s husband, Ed Roy, has been her main caretaker. Ed also had a son who was murdered, in fact that’s how he and Mary met. Here, they share more about Mary’s illness.

Mary’s community is rallying to help cover her medical expenses through a GoFundMe, which can be found here.

Top Photo: Oshea Israel, Mary Johnson-Roy and Ed Roy in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2023. By Brian Mogren 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 September 29, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

First story aired on May 20, 2011 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

 

18 Years After Katrina, A Grocer Rebuilds His Community One Shop at a Time

To mark StoryCorps’ 20th Anniversary we are revisiting classic conversations from the past two decades with updates from the participants.

This story is from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. The neighborhood was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and was slow to recover. Almost 10 years after the storm it still didn’t have a single grocery store.

Lower Ninth Ward resident Burnell Cotlon wanted to change that. He saved money by working at fast food restaurants and dollar stores and used it to buy a dilapidated building on an empty block, and opened a neighborhood grocery. 

In 2015 he told his mother, Lillie, how his story started in the days after the flood…

 

Produce, snacks, and a picture of the building before it was renovated at ‘Burnell’s Lower Ninth Ward Market’, New Orleans, Louisiana. By Ian Spencer Cook for StoryCorps. Photo of original building courtesy of Daniel Schergen, who helped renovate it.

 

Burnell Cotlon and customers in his store in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana in September, 2023. Courtesy of Burnell Cotlon.

 

Top Photo: Lillie Cotlon and Burnell Cotlon in front of Burnell’s store, ‘Burnell’s Lower Ninth Ward Market’ in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 19, 2015. By Ian Spencer Cook 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 September 22nd, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

First story aired on August 8th, 2015 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

This story is featured in Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, a collection that celebrates the passion, determination, and courage it takes to pursue the work we feel called to do from Penguin Books.

“Motherhood Is Not A Solo Journey:” A Daughter Reflects On Her Childhood

Luz Kenyon grew up in Mexico City, Mexico and in the mid 1980s she took a trip to New York City to celebrate her friend’s college graduation. She had no idea she would fall in love with a Jamaican traffic agent on the corner of 42nd street, and never go home.

She came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Anna Paloma Williams, to talk about this unexpected start to their family, and how she navigated raising mixed kids in America.

Top Photo: Anna Paloma Williams and Luz Kenyon at their StoryCorps interview in Columbus, GA on October 30, 2021. By Sarah Padgett for StoryCorps.
Middle Photo: Abuela Lucha, Luz Kenyon and Anna Paloma Williams in Stone Mountain, GA, in the early 1990s. Photo courtesy of the Kenyon family.
Bottom Photo: Luz Kenyon with Anna Paloma Williams and family celebrating abuela Lucha’s 90th birthday in Mexico City in April 2022. She passed away in December 2022. Photo courtesy of the Kenyon family.

 

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 Aug. 4, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

A Life In The Rodeo: A Bull Riding Champion Looks Back

It was a summer day in 1968 when a traveling carnival pitched its tent just outside South Central, Los Angeles. Then 11-year-old Charlie Sampson visited with his Boy Scout troop. He remembers the monkeys, bears and snakes. But it was the pony ride that really caught his attention.

“I gave the man a quarter to ride the ponies. Went around five times and that was the beginning of a lifestyle that I never dreamed of,” he said.

Charlie would later take a job cleaning horse stables in exchange for riding lessons. Eventually, a group of older cowboys took him under their wing and showed him how to rope and ride bulls. Years later, in 1982, Charlie became the first Black man to win the Professional Bull Riding World Championship.

 

 Charlie Sampson riding a bull in 1984. Bern Gregory, courtesy of the Dickinson Research Center at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. 1999.025.2422.33.

He came to StoryCorps with his son, Daniel Sampson, to talk about life as a father and a traveling cowboy.

Top Photo: Charlie Sampson and his son Daniel Sampson at their StoryCorps interview in Denver, Colorado on May 30, 2023. By Tamekia Jackson for StoryCorps.

Twin Mortician Brothers Look Back On A Life Of Caring For The Dead

At 69 years old, twin brothers Melvin and Marvin Morgan have both served as mortuary technicians for New York City morgues. 

They’ve worked through some of the city’s most horrific events –  moments like 9/11 and the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Just before Melvin’s retirement in 2023, they came to StoryCorps to look back on a life of caring for the dead.

Melvin Morgan and Marvin Morgan at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on April 22nd, 2023. By Eleanor Vassili for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: Melvin Morgan and Marvin Morgan at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on April 22nd, 2023. By Isabella 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 May 26th, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Mile in Her Shoes: How A Polio Survivor Forged Her Own Path

Shirley Duhart and her three younger brothers were raised by a single mom in Vine City, Georgia: a segregated, poverty-stricken area at the time. She contracted polio when she was 2 years old, just five years before the vaccine was released. Undaunted, she went on to have a successful career in the tech industry, and to mentor youth on how to navigate college and the corporate world.

Shirley Duhart on the Emory University campus in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1990s.

And Shirley has always defined herself in her own terms, evident in the way she dresses. While her doctors recommended she wear flat, well-balanced shoes, Shirley has been wearing pumps since she was thirteen. She came to StoryCorps with her longtime friend and doctor, Dale Strasser, to talk about why her shoes mean so much to her.

Shirley Duhart and Dale Strasser at their StoryCorps in Atlanta, Georgia on January 17, 2023.

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 April 21, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Pulled Into A Historic Flash Flood, One Man Saves A Stranger’s Life

In September 2009, after several days of heavy rain, the Atlanta metropolitan area suffered intense flash flooding. The catastrophic event killed 10 people and caused millions of dollars in damage. Sweetwater Creek, in Douglasville, was the site of some of the most devastating damage. 

Zack Stephney was 37 years old at the time, and working as a shop foreman at a large trucking company near Douglasville, which was located next to the floodplain. That morning, he rushed to work to help his fellow mechanics move the company’s semi trucks away from the rising waters and out of harm’s way.

A couple of months after the flash flood, he came to StoryCorps with his friend Melissa Brooks to remember the unique circumstances of how they met that day.


Zack Stephney’s coworkers assisting him as he swam out to rescue Melissa Brooks. Photo courtesy of Zack Stephney.

 

Top Photo: Melissa Brooks and Zack Stephney at the site of her rescue in December of 2009. Photo courtesy of Zack Stephney.

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 April 7, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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. 

“That Moment Was Love Embodied To Me.” A Father And Daughter Remember a Dramatic Rescue

Driving can be hard … and perhaps some people are just not meant to drive.  In Danny Bell’s family, that’s his wife, Maritza. He came to StoryCorps in 2022 with their daughter, Sydia, to recount a particularly memorable driving lesson.
Sydia and Danny Bell at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, GA on July 9, 2022. By Alison Hopkins for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: Sydia, Danny, and Maritza Bell with their dog (not Roxanna) in 2016. Courtesy of the Bell family.
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 17, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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