Black History Month honors the achievements, adversities, and legacy of African Americans in the United States. At StoryCorps, we are amplifying Black voices in conversations about activism, love, joy, and leadership. Explore our collection of stories to reflect on our shared history and to celebrate the impact of Black historical figures and pioneers.
Historic Black Voices
“The Black Vote Matters:” How An Army Veteran Inspired A Teenage Martin Luther King, Jr.
Warning, the following story includes a description of racial violence.
In 1945, World War II US Army veteran Maceo Snipes, returned home to Taylor County, Georgia. He voted in the county’s primary in July of 1946, and the next day, he was murdered by a white mob. Read the full transcript here.
A Family Remembers A Civil Rights Activist On The 60th Anniversary Of His Killing
Herbert Lee, Sr. was a businessman, farmer and activist for racial equality in 1950s Mississippi. On September 25, 1961, he was murdered in Liberty, MS. His white killer, Mississippi state legislator, E.H. Hurst, was acquitted the very next day. On the 60th anniversary of his death, Shirley Lee Riley — Lee’s youngest child — and her son, Clifton Franklin, sat down for StoryCorps to remember Herbert Lee’s civil rights legacy. Read the full transcript here.
A Pastor Who Was Once A Mischievous Child, Pays Tribute To “The People That Nurtured Me”
Growing up in the 1950s in Montgomery, AL., Rev. Farrell Duncombe or “Little Farrell,” as he was known by his family and friends, had a mischievous side. But he had many role models who kept him in line. One such person was his own father, Rev. Henry A. Duncombe Sr., who was the pastor of their church, St. Paul A.M.E. Church of Montgomery. Read the full transcript here.
Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, race car driver Wendell Scott poured his heart, soul, and all of his earnings into racing across the South. In 2015, he became the first Black person to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Read the full transcript here.
How Jackie Robinson Inspired One Man “To Be Somebody”
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he took Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That day is a historic marker for racial progress, but his journey to becoming the first African American player in the majors began in Daytona Beach, Florida — a year earlier. Read the full transcript here.
Labor of Love
Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden was born into enslavement in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She was 7 years old when she was freed. She stayed in Black Mountain and became a midwife, delivering several hundred babies including her own grandchildren. Her granddaughter, Mary Othella Burnette, came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Debora Hamilton Palmer, to honor the family matriarch. Read the full transcript here.
Dion Diamond: Reflections on 60 Years of Civil Rights Activism
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Dion Diamond was a bit of a prankster, and spent much of his youth trying to, as he put it, “crash segregated society.” Later, as a student activist at Howard University, he appears unbothered while sitting at a lunch counter in the face of members of the American Nazi Party. At the age of 76, Dion came to StoryCorps to talk about how he got started. Read the full transcript here.
In the 1950s Ellaraino, then age 16, was sent to Louisiana to visit her great-grandmother Silvia, who had lived through the Civil War. That summer, Silvia shared the moment she got her freedom. Read the full transcript here.
Olivia J. Hooker, Pioneer and First Black Woman in the Coast Guard
Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, 103, shares what it was like as one of the first Black women to join the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve in 1945, and what her time in the service has meant to her. Read the full transcript here.
A More Perfect Union
As a Black woman who came of voting age in the late 1940s, Theresa Burroughs was one of many Americans to fight against voter suppression. Every month for two years, she traveled to Alabama’s Hale County Courthouse in pursuit of her right to vote. Read the full transcript here.
Remembering Dr. Charles Drew, “The Father of Blood Banks”
In the 1940s, Dr. Charles Drew was a prominent surgeon whose medical breakthroughs helped preserve the lives of thousands of soldiers. His daughter, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, talks with her son about her father’s life and legacy. Read the full transcript here.
The Treasures of Mrs. Grady’s Library
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.
Stories about Black Joy
Six-year-old Jerry Morrison’s favorite person to talk to is his uncle, NASA engineer Joey Jefferson. They celebrate their shared passion for space and exploration. Read the full transcript here.
Cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson recall their formidable Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine, the only woman who scared them more than their grandmother. Set in the small Florida town of the cousins’ memories, this animation will have you laughing out loud as the cousins remember the fearsome Miss Devine. Read the full transcript here.
Bringing Hope and a Love of Horses to L.A. Streets
Ghuan Featherstone grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He has one clear memory of riding a horse for the first time, in Griffith Park, when he was eight years old. It was a feeling that he never forgot, and a lifelong passion was born. Read the full transcript here.
Stories about Black Love
You Move Me
Jay McKnight was singing outside one summer evening and caught the ear of a girl named Andrea. They share how their childhood romance became a lifelong partnership. Read the full transcript here.
Me & You
On May 25, 1971, Jackie Miller and her husband brought home their son, Scott, whom they adopted. 37 years later, Scott brought his mother to StoryCorps, where they shared a conversation about Jackie’s decision to adopt him, their profound love for one another, and Scott’s trepidation at what the future holds. Read the full transcript here.
Stories about Black Community Leaders
How Losing Relatives to Cancer Inspired A Life’s Work
After being raised by her aunt and uncle, Hadiyah-Nicole Green lost both of them to cancer in her early 20s. Caring for them inspired Dr. Green to dedicate her life to fighting the disease. Read the full transcript here.
How A Dedicated Teacher Turned Into A Lifelong Friend
Raymond Blanks had very few Black teachers when he was growing up in Newark, NJ. But the ones he did have, made a big impact on how he saw himself and what he believed he could be. Raymond’s 7th grade math and science teacher, Sean Lloyd, was one of them. Mr. Lloyd challenged Raymond to strive for excellence, both in and out of the classroom, and now Raymond is paying it forward. Read the full transcript here.
Reverend James Seawood recalls how integration led to African American families being forced out of his hometown, the human cost of “urban renewal,” and the fate of his beloved school. Read the full transcript here.
Philadelphia Poll Worker Supports Her Community, and Inspires Daughter to Do the Same
Cherie DeBrest cast her first ballot nearly 30 years ago and has voted in every election since. She felt “duty-bound” to vote in honor of those before her who weren’t allowed. She credits her inspiration to early suffragettes, Black women like Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, who fought for the right to vote in 1920, but never got the chance to vote themselves. Read the full transcript here.
“Our Father Taught Us To Love Ourself”: Remembering The Man Who Brought Juneteenth To San Diego
Before Juneteenth was recognized in the U.S. as a federal holiday, Sidney Cooper had been celebrating this day for decades. At StoryCorps, two of Sidney’s daughters, Marla and Lana, came to remember the many lessons on family, community, and the importance of celebrating Juneteenth they learned from their father. Read the full transcript here.
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