Identity Archives - StoryCorps

“We Knew We Were the Best.” Reflections from the First Black Marines of Montford Point

A group of Montford Point volunteers in their dress uniforms circa May, 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1942, the U.S. allowed Black men to enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time. It was during World War II, and resulted in more than 19,000 Black recruits being sent to Montford Point, North Carolina for basic training.

These men fought for their country in the midst of the racism and prejudice they faced at home. They were essential to the war effort but did not recieve the same respect in uniform as their white counterparts. 

Many of those men are no longer with us, but their voices can be heard in the StoryCorps archive. One of those voices is that of Corporal Sidney Allen Francis,  a retired New York City police detective.  Sidney came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Candice, to talk about how his time at Montford Point shaped him.

William Pickens, Estel Roberts and Benjamin Jenkins at their StoryCorps interviews in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Dayton, Ohio in 2012, 2014, and 2010. By Leslee Dean, Mayra Sierra, and Virginia Lora 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 24, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

 

 

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.

At The Lesbian Switchboard, Empathy Was On The Other End of the Line

The Lesbian Switchboard was a helpline for queer women that operated from 1972 to 1997. Denise Tuite volunteered to spend hours at night sitting in the cramped offices of the Switchboard, taking calls from women with no one else to talk to about their sexuality.

Some of these calls were casual, asking where to meet women in NYC. Others were from people in need of advice and consolation.

But through all of them, Denise could recognize the same emotions she’d once felt..

At StoryCorps, Denise shared what brought her to the Lesbian Switchboard.

Originally aired December 15, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Top Photo: Denise Tuite at her StoryCorps interview in Tinton City, NJ on November 1, 2023. By James Eustace for StoryCorps.

As Two Communities Clashed, A Lifelong Friendship Grew

When Jim Murphy was nine, his Irish-American family moved to the south side of Tucson, Arizona. They were one of many families who migrated to the city just after World War II. 

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and his Mexican-American family were already living there.

At first the groups clashed, and fights were frequent at Jim and Carlos’ school. But the students would still find themselves together each Sunday for church. 

Carlos and Jim came to StoryCorps to talk about their memories growing up on the south side, and how they had more in common than they initially realized.

Photo of All Saints Catholic School 8th grade graduating class, including Jim and Carlos, in Tucson, Arizona, in 1950. Courtesy of Jim Murphy.

 

Top Photo: Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and Jim Murphy in Jim’s backyard in Tucson, Arizona on April 16, 2023. By Esther Honig 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 November 11, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Didn’t Know If I Really Belonged”: A Chickasaw Woman Finds Her Way Back to Oklahoma

Shelby Rowe works in suicide prevention and has dedicated her life to helping people struggling with mental health. But she came to StoryCorps with her best friend, Johnna James, to share her own story of overcoming hardship, and how she found belonging in her Chickasaw roots.

Shelby Rowe working on a commission piece in her home in Oklahoma City, OK, around June of 2018. Courtesy of Shelby Rowe.
Loom-stitched artwork by Shelby Rowe: 21st Century Chickasaw Hatchet Woman, 2020. Used with permission from Shelby Rowe.

 

Top Photo: Shelby Rowe and Johnna James at their StoryCorps interview in Oklahoma City, OK. on July 13, 2023. By Julia Kirschenbaum 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 October 13, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

College Roommates Find Lasting Friendship In A Time of Transition

In 2016, Trey Phillips set off for his freshman year at Connecticut College. Itching for independence, he moved cross-country from his hometown of Los Angeles, California.

Trey’s roommate, Andre Thomas, ventured away from his home state of Illinois.  

The freshmen had emailed over the summer, but neither knew the impact they would have on each other in the coming year. 

Trey and Andre came to StoryCorps to reflect on that time, and all they’ve learned from one another.

Top Photo: Trey Phillips and Andre Thomas at their StoryCorps interview in New London, CT on January 21, 2018. By Aisha Turner 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 October 6, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“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. 

Helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl

When the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded in 1986, dozens died, and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from a 1,000 square mile radius. 

But people’s pets were impacted as well. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals were killed or abandoned, and for more than 30 years those that survived have continued to reproduce in this radioactive forest. 

Stephen Quandt, an animal welfare worker in New York City, came to StoryCorps to talk about a humanitarian trip he took to Ukraine in 2019, and how the work he does ties back to his childhood.

Top Photo: Stephen Quandt at the Clean Futures Fund clinic in Slavutych, Ukraine—a city built for those evacuated after the nuclear power plant disaster—in June of 2019. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Middle Photo: One of an estimated 250 stray dogs living in the forests of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Bottom Photo: Pripyat Amusement Park in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo by Stephen Quandt.

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 July 28, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

This Couple is Fighting for Equality and Safety For Two Spirit People On Tribal Land

Felipa DeLeon Mousseau Grew up in Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservation. When she was young she knew a few gay people, including her cousin, and while they were accepted in the community they were not always respected.

Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau in 2022 at a Two Spirit gathering at Flat Head Lake, Montana. Courtesy of the participants.

When she was in her 30’s Felipa went for out for a night with coworkers to a dimly lit, crowded bar in Rapid City, South Dakota. This is where she first saw Monique “Muffie” Mousseau. Muffie had also grown up on the reservation, but 16 miles from Felipa in a small town called Porcupine.

The hands of Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau at their StoryCorps interview in Rapid City, South Dakota on January 31, 2023. By Savannah Winchester for StoryCorps.

A fast and intense love sprung up between them. And it took them on a journey that neither of them could have anticipated. They came to StoryCorps to talk about that night and what came next.

 

Top Photo: Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau at their StoryCorps interview in Rapid City, South Dakota on January 31, 2023. By Savannah Winchester 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.

This recording was made possible by a partnership with Uniting Resilience.

Originally aired May 5, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Mother and Daughter Reflect On the Bill of Rights That Helped Shaped Their Bond

Growing up in a small rural town, Margaret Powell developed a toughness and learned how to stand up for herself. Her daughter, Folashade Alao, remembers admiring her boldness as a child, and she saw how hard her mother worked as a single mother to give her as many opportunities as possible.

Folashade never wanted to disappoint her mother, but this didn’t mean she never asserted her own views. In elementary school, Folashade wrote and presented her own Bill of Rights with amendments stating what she thought was fair and unfair. 

Margaret Powell and Folashade Alao at Sea World around the time she drafted her Bill of Rights.

“What came out of it was you telling me you’re not my friend, you’re my mama and that we each have an important role in supporting our household,” Folashade remembers.

Folashade and Margaret came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they shaped their relationship and what it takes to raise a child.

Top Photo: Margaret Powell and Folashade Alao at their StoryCorps interview in Decatur, GA  on January 31, 2023. By Kevin Alarcon 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 April 14, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.