In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing StoryCorps stories that center Black voices in conversations about Black history, identity, struggles, and joy. This collection also includes behind-the-scenes information about some of the stories. Through these broadcasts and animations, you can discover new perspectives and reflections on our shared history as a nation.
Whose voice do you want to see included in the narrative of Black history? By sitting down with someone you love for a StoryCorps conversation, you’re showing them that their stories matter and preserving them for generations. You can record in person using the StoryCorps App, or remotely using StoryCorps Connect.
Historic Black Voices
Dr. Olivia J. Hooker was thought to be the last surviving witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. You can hear more about her life and the lives of other groundbreaking women in our podcast episode, “The First, But Not The Last.”
Photo: Olivia Hooker (in front) and fellow SPAR Aileen Anita Cooks, pause on the ladder of the dry-land ship ‘U.S.S. Neversail’ during their ‘boot’ training at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Station, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, NY, 1945.
The Civil Rights Era
Growing up in Arkansas in the 1950s, Judge Olly Neal was afraid to let his high school classmates see him reading. To keep this secret, he would steal books from the library. What he didn’t realize was that the librarian Mrs. Grady was supporting his love of reading from afar.
Read the full transcript here.
This photo, taken in 1960, shows then-teenage civil rights activist Dion Diamond conducting a sit-in at a “white only” lunch counter in Arlington, VA. He shares his experience, as he puts it, “crashing segregated society.”
Read the full transcript here.
Wendell Scott competed in race cars that he put together from pieces he found in junkyards. You can hear more about his extraordinary life and race car driving career in our podcast episode, “The Ballad of Wendell Scott.”
Photo: A rough drawing of Wendell Scott created for the Storycorps animation “Driven.”
Making History Today
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is the first person ever to kill cancer in mice using laser-activated nanoparticles, which is a big departure from predominant cancer treatments today. She founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in honor of her late aunt, and her work is in the process of moving forward into human trials. Her goal is to make cancer treatment accessible, effective, and affordable for all.
Photo: “Auntie” Ora Lee Smith and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green.
Joey Jefferson spoke about his love of space with his other love: his partner, Wilford Lenov. You can hear more from them in our podcast episode, “Love and a Life Complete.”
From the StoryCorps Archive
Bruce Waight talks with his life and business partner, Vanessa Morrison, about the mobile barbershop they started together, En Root. They talk about what it means to be Black entrepreneurs, help their community, and provide haircuts to people experiencing vulnerability.
Mary E. Sims talks with her friend, Linda Jones, about attending “Nappy Hair Affair” gatherings at Linda’s house where women, and later men, of color were encouraged to wear their hair naturally and learn how to style it. The two unpack how trauma and healing are linked to how they choose to wear their hair.
Sisters Jaida Elyse Nelson and Joia Erin Thornton reflect on their sisterhood, their experiences growing up and going to college, and why they started the Queen Esteem Foundation.
RaShauna Nicole Wright talks with her husband John Henry Wright IV about their “bucket lists,” what they’re most proud of, first meeting each other, and hopes for the future.
Doris Jackson and her sister Lucy talk with Doris’ daughter, LaToya, about some of their favorite family memories. LaToya thanks her mother for the sacrifice she made to send LaToya to college.
Jason Pryor talks to his girlfriend Svetlana Binshtok about how he started fencing at age 11 on a whim, got hooked on the sport, and became a competitive athlete. He describes the bittersweetness of competing in the 2016 Olympic Games and the challenges of being a professional fencer.
Spouses Regina Mitchell and E. Stanley “Stan” Mitchell reflect on their marriage and share how it all started with a chance meeting and a piece of gum.
Nothando Zulu talks with her granddaughter, Mariama Gillespie, and daughter, Makeda Zulu-Gillespie, about being a storyteller, “whoopins,” and love.
April Banks talks to new acquaintance Mary Mills, an African American woman who surfs in the LA county area.
Javal Blades speaks to their friend Kenny Halbert about family, their trans identity, and remembering the evolution of their individual identities since they met in high school.
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