Legacy 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. 

 

 

A Father And Imam Records a Love Letter to His Family

Sohaib Sultan was an Imam and Chaplain at Princeton University when he and his wife, Arshe Ahmed, learned that they were about to become parents. After more than a decade struggling to conceive, the couple decided to adopt. 

Arshe Ahmed, Radiyya and Sohaib Sultan, celebrating their first Eid together on Sept 1, 2017, in Hamilton, NJ. Photo Courtesy of Arshe Ahmed.

Their dreams of building a family came true when they learned their daughter, Radiyya, would be arriving from Pakistan. But when Radiyya was 3 years old, Sohaib was diagnosed with cancer. He and Arshe came to StoryCorps to reflect on that time.

Arshe Ahmed and Radiyya at Sohaib’s graveside on the anniversary of his death, April 16, 2023 at Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton NJ. Photo courtesy of Arshe Ahmed.

Top Photo: Arshe Ahmed, Radiyya, and Sohaib Sultan at Spring Lake Beach, New Jersey on August 30, 2020. Photo Courtesy of Arshe Ahmed. 

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 interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices and 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 February, 14, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“It’s Like This Invisible Golden Lasso.” A Son Reflects on Coming Out, and His Mother’s Love

Corey Harvard has dedicated his life to advocating for LGBTQ+ youth in Mobile, Alabama through his organization Prism United

He was raised in Mobile, and grew up in a deeply religious home. But in middle school, he realized he was queer, and struggled to come out to his parents. 

Corey and Lisa Harvard at a skating rink in Columbus, Ohio in 1996. By Benjamin Harvard, courtesy of Corey Harvard.

Above all he worried it would change how much they loved him. But it didn’t.  At StoryCorps, Corey sat down with his mother, Lisa Harvard, to reflect on that time.

Lisa and Corey Harvard out to dinner together in Mobile, Alabama on May 3rd, 2016. By Jennifer Clark-Grainger, courtesy of Corey Harvard.

Top Photo: Corey and Lisa Harvard at their StoryCorps interview in Mobile, Alabama on October 29, 2023. By Chapin Montague 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 January 26, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Have To Go, Girl”: A Mother And Daughter Get Real About Death

StoryCorps recording booths are places for people to look back on their lives, and sometimes to look ahead to a time when they’re no longer here.

That’s what Nidera Brown chose to discuss with her 66-year-old mother, Conchetta Brown. Conchetta has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, and uses oxygen.

They came to StoryCorps to discuss their close relationship in life, and in death.

Top Photo: Nidera and Conchetta Brown at their StoryCorps interview in San Antonio, TX on November 17, 2022. By Manuela Velasquez 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 January 19, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“He Inherited The Very Same Name”: Remembering Joseph Kahahawai

In 1931, five young Hawaiian men were wrongfully charged of raping the white wife of a U.S. Navy officer stationed at Pearl Harbor. Her name was Thalia Massie, and she alleged it happened around midnight when she decided to go for a walk and get some air. The case was declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict, and the men were released.

In what became known as the Massie trials, the family of the accuser—including her mother and husband—then kidnapped and killed one of the five accused men in January of 1932. He was a Native Hawaiian boxer named Joseph Kahahawai.

Portraits of Joseph “Joe” Kahahawai circa 1931 (left) and his brother, Joseph Kahahawai circa 1954. Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Kahahawai family.

The Massie’s were tried and sentenced to ten years in prison for manslaughter… But under threats of Martial Law from Congress, they were pardoned by the territorial governor of Hawaii, who commuted their sentence to one hour in his office. The Massie family fled to the mainland, and never returned.

After decades of silence, the Kahahawai family has started speaking publicly about the case, and the impact “Joe” Kahahawai’s murder had on their family and the broader Hawaiian community.

At StoryCorps, his nieces, Kim Farrant and Joy Kahahawai-Welch, remember their uncle, and how the family has kept his name and legacy alive.

Joseph Kahahawai’s gravesite, at the Puea Cemetery in Kalihi, Honolulu, HI, on January 8, 2022 (the anniversary of his murder). Courtesy of the Kahahawai family.
Top Photo: Kim Farrant and Joy Kahahawai-Welch at their StoryCorps interview in Honolulu on June 17, 2022. By Ben DeHaven 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 Jan. 5, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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.

How a Teacher’s Act of Kindness Bound her Student and Family Together

In 1958, John’s Cruitt’s mother fell ill and passed away shortly before Christmas. His third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, gave him a kiss on the forehead after class, and told him he didn’t have to be alone.

John never forgot that moment, and 54 years later wrote a heartfelt letter telling her how much she meant to him. Not long after, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they became so close.


The letter John Cruitt wrote to his former third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, in 2012.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

 

Cecile passed away in 2019. But John had also grown close to her daughter, Allison Doyle. At StoryCorps, they discussed how John’s reunion with his teacher brought them together.


John Cruitt and Allison Doyle looking through Cecile Doyle’s  scrapbook on December 10, 2023.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: John Cruitt and his third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, reuniting for the first time in 54 years in 2012. Courtesy of Allison Doyle. 

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.

Original broadcast aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Update aired December 22, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Amor Eterno: Remembering Ana Guissel Palma on Día de los Muertos

Cesar Viveros in front of his altar in Philadelphia in 2022.
Photo by Neal Santos, courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

In 2016, Cesar Viveros and his wife Ana Guissel Palma set out to document Day of the Dead altars in South Philadelphia—a thriving Mexican and Central American community.  The pair went door-to-door, recording stories across their neighborhood in the hopes of creating a large community altar for people to visit and remember their loved ones. 

But two years into the project, Ana became sick, and passed away just before Day of the Dead, leaving Cesar to finish the project on his own. 

He came to StoryCorps with his niece, Kathy Lopez, to honor her.

A framed photo of Ana Guissel Palma at an altar created by Cesar Viveros. October 21, 2023 at FDR Park in Philadelphia. By Kayla Lattimore 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 27, 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.

 

“On August 19, 1958, I Was Seven.” An Oklahoma City Woman Remembers Being a Child Activist

The sit-in movement was a cornerstone of the Civil Rights era, and perhaps best known for the Greensboro Four—a group of college students who sat in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in North Carolina in 1960. Rooted in nonviolence, sit-ins became a far-reaching advocacy strategy that spanned lunch counters, department stores, courtrooms, and the White House. 


Linda Benson, Ayanna Najuma, and Carolyn House (seated on the floor, left to right), staging a sit-in at Bishop’s Restaurant in Oklahoma City on May 31, 1963. Also pictured: Maurice Coffey, and Dwayne Cosby. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection.

But while the Greensboro protest sparked the movement, one of the first sit-ins happened two years earlier at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City.


Church leaders and activists gathered in front of the Municipal Building in Oklahoma City in December 1960, with a sign reading, ‘I’m Doing My Christmas Shopping at Katz This Year.’  Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection

It was staged by children, and among them was 7-year-old Ayanna Najuma.  At StoryCorps, she remembered how it started with a NAACP Youth Council trip.

Top Photo: Ayanna Najuma (center) and other NAACP Youth Council staging a sit-in at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958. Courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection.

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 August 18, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.