Brightness in Black - StoryCorps
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COMING SPRING 2024

A Black child wearing a blue long sleeve button down wearing braids down her back and half of it as a bun up and a Black woman in a blue long sleeve button down and long braids.
A Black boy in a gray hoodie with navy sleeves jumping.
A Black man and woman in a graduation cap and gown.

Brightness in Black collaborates with communities to collect and share joyous, ambitious and cultural stories, while countering harmful narratives about the Black experience in America. Our program design weaves together interview collection and story sharing with opportunities for community conversations, gaming and the sharing of tools and training with partners to sustain our collective narrative change work. 

For 20 years, StoryCorps has convened people and shared and archived their stories. Brightness in Black builds on that foundation.

Get Involved

College students, many of them from HBCUs, have the opportunity to facilitate and archive conversations — and be compensated — as part of a fellowship program. Learn more about how to apply.

Brightness in Black will spend one-year residencies in up to six cities with large Black populations, including Philadelphia and Atlanta, while pursuing additional activations, such as pop-up recordings and events, across the country. 

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Experience our stories.

Brightness in Black shares its content with Black audiences, in order to reflect back their richness and boldness, and with White audiences to foster intercultural dialogue.

“And to this day, I live my life trying to be half the man my father was.”

In 1964, Lynn was one of 14 Black students who integrated West High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. During this difficult time in his life, there was one man who always made him feel safe and supported—his father, Ted Weaver—who worked as a janitor and chauffeur. At StoryCorps, Lynn talked to his daughter, Kimberly, about a lesson he learned from his father that extended beyond the classroom. Read the full transcript.

“If somebody needed help — granny was going.”

Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden was born into enslavement in Black Mountain, NC, and was freed at age seven. She became a central figure in the community as 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 their family matriarch. Read the full transcript.

“My basketball teammates were my first babysitters.”

Wil Smith enrolled as a freshman at Bowdoin College at age 27
with his infant daughter, Olivia, in tow. Wil balanced his studies, a night job, and basketball — all while raising his daughter. As a
teenager, Olivia sat down with her dad to hear more about their days as college roommates. Read the full transcript.

“My dream for you is for you to live out your dreams.”

When nine-year-old Aidan Sykes came to StoryCorps in
Jackson, Mississippi, he had some important questions for his
father Albert. During their conversation, Albert shares his
experience of Black fatherhood and his dreams for Aidan’s
future. Read the full transcript.

“Everyone wanted to be at our house.”

Mary Mills grew up in the 1960s in a quiet neighborhood near
Santa Monica, CA. Although Mary didn’t have siblings to play
with, she was never lonely. There were plenty of children nearby, all of whom wanted to hang out with Mary and her mom, Joyce Carter Mills. Mary brought Joyce to StoryCorps to share why she was “the mom every other kid wanted.” Read the full transcript.

THANK YOU TO OUR MAJOR FUNDERS

Brightness in Black is made possible by lead support from Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand’s Black Community Commitment, and by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation.