Wisdom 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.

Father and Doctor Reflect on a Life Cut Short by Cancer

Robert Robinson and Dr. John Fortunato met under incredibly difficult circumstances.

When Robert’s daughter, Angel, started rapidly losing weight, doctors incorrectly believed an eating disorder was to blame.

But on one visit to the hospital, Dr. Fortunato discovered a rare stomach tumor.

Angel, Robert and Serenity Robinson in Hawaii on January 22, 2023. Courtesy of Robert Robinson. 

Despite multiple rounds of treatment, Angel died at the age of 15 in August, 2023. One of their final wishes was that their story serve to help other patients be heard when seeking treatment. 

Serenity, Robert and Angel Robinson in Chicago, Illinois in September 2019. By Kylie Kreations, courtesy of Robert Robinson.

Robert and Dr. Fortunato have forged a lasting bond and continue to support each other in their efforts to honor Angel’s legacy.

They came to StoryCorps to reflect on the impact the experience had on both of them. 

Top Photo: Robert Robinson and Dr. John Fortunato at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago, Illinois on October 30, 2023. By Jeb Backe 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 2, 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. 

“Try to be happy.” : A Father Shares his Wisdom

Tchin, an artist and metalsmith, has built a distinguished career. He’s an established Indigenous artist, even creating pieces for brands like Cartier.  

Tchin and Xiao Hui Star in Santa Fe, NM in 1985. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star.

Growing up in foster homes across Virginia and Rhode Island, Tchin was often one of the few Indigenous people in his community. But he made a life as an artist while raising four daughters in New York City.

At StoryCorps Tchin sat down with his daughter Xiao Hui Star Chin to reflect on all he’s learned.

Xiao Hui with her parents Tchin and WanWoo Chin in Brooklyn, NY in 1988. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star
Top Photo: Xiao Hui Star and Tchin at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA on September 16, 2023. 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 January 12, 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. 

Caring For People With HIV, With Kindness And Hope

Joseph Rogers Britton began caring for people living with HIV in the 1980s. He nurtured friends and children, always looking out for those around him. After his own diagnosis, he continued to care for people through illness. 

While looking after one friend, he met his future long-term partner, Steven Lee Leuthold. That act of kindness became a foundation in their own connection. 

Joseph Rogers Britton and Steven Lee Luethold in the late 90s in St Louis, MO. Photo Courtesy of Joseph Rogers Britton.

Joseph came to StoryCorps with his friend Jeff Moore to reflect on a life full of generosity.

 

Top Photo: Joseph Rogers Britton and Jeff Moore at their StoryCorps interview in St. Louis, Missouri on September 22, 2023. 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.

This recording was made in partnership with the organization Doorways.

Originally aired December 1, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Nearing The End Of Her Life, They Sat Down For One Last StoryCorps Conversation

In the early 1970s Jackie Miller and her husband adopted their son, Scott.

Thirty-seven years later — in 2008 — Scott came to StoryCorps with Jackie to talk about their relationship and to find out more about the history behind his adoption. 

Scott Miller with his parents, Jackie and Percy Miller, in Barbados, in the mid 1970s. Photo courtesy of Scott Miller.

 

A cut of that recording aired June 11, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition. You can listen to it here.

Fifteen years after that initial conversation, Jackie’s health started to decline. Realizing his mom was nearing the end of life, Scott wanted to do one more interview, and share an update on their relationship.

Scott Miller and Jackie Miller at their StoryCorps interview in New York City, NY, on May 30, 2008. By Mike Rauch for StoryCorps.

Click here to watch “Me & You,” an animation of Scott and Jackie’s first story.

 

Top Photo: Jackie Miller and Scott Miller at their StoryCorps interview in Tarrytown, NY, on October 27, 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 Nov. 17, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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.

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.