StoryCorps Griot Archives - Page 5 of 13 - StoryCorps
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After Facing A Difficult Coming Out, One Couple Changed A Mother’s Heart

Leslye Huff (left) and her partner, Mary Ostendorf (right), met in 1983. Leslye was open about her feelings for Mary and wasn’t shy about publicly showing her affection—even on their first date. Mary felt less comfortable with public displays of affection and had not told many people in her life about her sexuality, including her family.

When Mary introduced Leslye to her mother, Agnes, they did not immediately reveal to her the nature of their relationship, but during that meeting Leslye felt a connection with Agnes. “I liked her. She was short like me, and pretty vivacious. She and I sat and talked and I thought the makings of a pretty good friendship was beginning.”

Later that year, days before they gathered for Thanksgiving, Leslye picked up the phone and told Agnes the truth about her relationship with Mary.

At StoryCorps, Mary and Leslye discuss what happened after the phone call and how their relationship with Agnes changed in the years that followed.

Since then, Leslye and Mary moved across the country to Berkeley, California so Leslye could pursue a seminary degree. She recently graduated.

Top Photo: Leslye Huff and Mary Ostendorf.

Originally aired November 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. It was rebroadcast on November 26, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“I don’t break”: How Two People Found Strength in One Another After Police Violence

In 2009, Alexander Landau was brutally beaten during a routine traffic stop by police in Denver, Colorado. His charges were dropped, and he later won a settlement from that city.

Years later, Nina Askew — another Colorado resident — had her arm broken in three places during an arrest. Her charges later resulted in a conviction of resisting arrest, and a hung jury on second degree assault of a police officer. 

Nina knew of Alexander from the media coverage of his case, and while their cases had very different outcomes, Nina was looking for moral and logistical support as she went through her trial.

Although Nina first reached out to Alexander for legal advice, she found something deeper in their connection. 

Top Photo: Alexander Landau and Nina Askew at their StoryCorps interview in Denver, Colorado on July 17, 2021. By Nick Sullivan for StoryCorps.

Originally aired November 12, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

First Muslim Chaplain In U.S. Armed Forces Recalls His Decades-Long Career Of Supporting Soldiers

Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad joined the United States Army in 1982. Before enlisting, he was a civilian imam in San Diego, CA, and he joined because was attracted to the discipline and values of the military culture there.

In the early 90s, Lt. Col. Muhammad became the first Muslim chaplain in the Armed Forces. In his duties, he consoled the families of fallen soldiers, and offered mental and emotional support to service members dealing with grief.

He came to StoryCorps with his wife, Saleemah Muhammad, to talk about what that was like.

Top Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad and his wife, Saleemah Muhammad. Photo courtesy of the participants.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices 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 November 6, 2021 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

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.

Herbert Lee’s daughter, Shirley Lee Riley, and her son, Clifton Franklin. Courtesy of Clifton Franklin.
Top Photo: Herbert Lee, Sr. and Prince Estella Lee. Courtesy of Clifton Franklin.

30 Years After Carrying Her Out Of A Burning Building, A Firefighter Tells The Woman He Saved: “You’ve Carried Me Through Tough Times.”

Los Angeles County firefighter Derek Bart first came to StoryCorps in 2020, just hours after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis.

He stepped into the MobileBooth to reflect on his 33 years of public service and how he wanted to be remembered. But there, he thought of someone else, an 8-year-old girl he’d met early in his career, when he responded to a house fire.

Los Angeles County fire captain Derek Bart at his firehouse. Courtesy of Derek Bart.

Shortly after his first recording, Derek found out he’d been misdiagnosed, and that he was going to live. So he came back to sit down for another StoryCorps conversation, this time with Myeshia Oates, the woman who he saved nearly three decades ago.

Top Photo: Myeshia Oates and Derek Bart at their StoryCorps interview in Santa Clarita, CA on August 23, 2021.

Originally aired September 24, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“He Created His Own Destiny”: Siblings Remember Their Video Game Pioneer Dad

Engineer Gerald Lawson was always fascinated with how things worked. 

He went from tinkering with TV parts as a young teen to helping lead the team that created the first ever home video game system that used interchangeable game cartridges. 

His invention allowed people to collect and play different games on the same system. It was one of the greatest technological innovations in the field — paving the way for a multi-billion dollar industry.

Lawson’s pioneering spirit also influenced the way he raised his two children, Anderson and Karen Lawson in 1970s Silicon Valley.

The Lawson Family: Catherine, Gerald, Anderson and Karen. Circa 1975. Courtesy of the participants.

Growing up, they remember a home filled with state-of-the-art technology — like an early digital clock and some of the first home computers. They came to StoryCorps to reflect on their unforgettable childhood and their father’s colossal personality.

Anderson, Gerald and Karen Lawson. 1973. Courtesy of the participants.
Top Photo: Anderson and Karen Lawson at their StoryCorps recording in Atlanta, GA in 2015. By Diana Guyton for StoryCorps.

Originally aired September 17, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Life of Honor

A gay veteran recalls serving in silence.

Joseph Patton

When Joseph Patton joined the Navy in 1955, he had to serve in silence. At the time, the LGBTQ community could not be open while in the military. Despite being the “perfect sailor,” Joseph was kicked out of the Navy under the assumption that he was homosexual. At StoryCorps, Joseph remembers the pride he took in his service and the beauty and joy that love has brought to his life.

Listen to Joseph’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.

“You Are Your Brother’s Keeper”: A Marine Opens Up To His Son About 9/11

In August 2000, former Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas was discharged from active duty. One year later, on September 11, 2001, he was compelled to step forward as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, just miles from where he lived. 

Jason grabbed his Marine uniform and sped to Ground Zero, where he spent almost three weeks working as a first responder looking for survivors buried under the debris. 

Jason Thomas at Ground Zero on 9/11. This is one of the images developed by the firefighter who found Jason’s camera at Ground Zero. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Jason — now a Master Sgt. with the Air Force Reserve — came to StoryCorps with his youngest son, Jason Christian Thomas, to talk about the lasting impact that experience had on him. 

This was the first time they spoke about the details of that day.

Jason Thomas and Jason Christian Thomas in Florida, July of 2020. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.
Top Photo: Jason Thomas at Ground Zero after 9/11. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

Originally aired Sept. 11, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Remembering Their Quiet Mornings Together, This Granddaughter Honors Her “Gentle Giant”

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, Libby Stroik remembered she liked to pass her days reading, playing the piano, or writing; finding solace in the peacefulness of these solo activities.

But Libby was adopted into a large family, so it could be hard to find these moments of quiet. 

But there was one person with whom Libby always felt comfortable: her grandfather, Harry Golomski. Visiting him and Grandma on their farm in rural Wisconsin was somewhat of an occasion for Libby as they lived a few hours away.

Harry Golomski with Libby Stroik and one of her siblings in 1991. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).

Decades later, when Libby sat down with StoryCorps for this conversation, Harry was living in an assisted living facility and losing his memory. So she came alone to honor Harry’s quietly joyful soul, and remember how he always made her feel special.

Toddler Libby Stroik stomping around in her grandpa’s boots in 1993. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).
Top Photo: A recent photo of Libby Stroik at home in Milwaukee in 2019. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).

Originally aired August 13, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Dr. Charles Drew: Remembering “The Father of Blood Banks” And His Fatherhood

In the 1940s, Dr. Charles Drew was a prominent surgeon, living with his wife and four children in Washington, D.C. He was a multifaceted man who trained surgeons and physicians, and who also studied and tested the storage of blood and plasma.

Dr. Charles Drew working with his residents at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis.

During World War II, Dr. Drew was recruited to head the Blood for Britain Project. His goal was to discover the safe storage and transport of blood needed on the battlefield. His efforts were successful, and his breakthrough helped preserve the lives of thousands of soldiers.

After the war, Dr. Drew continued his life-saving research, even while the Red Cross maintained a segregation of blood based on race. Dr. Drew fervently argued against the segregation of blood, but he would not live to see the reversal of this policy. He died in a car accident on April 1, 1950, but later that year the Red Cross ended the discriminatory practice.

Ernest Jarvis and Charlene Drew Jarvis in recent years. Courtesy of Ernest Jarvis.

Dr. Drew’s daughter, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, came to StoryCorps with her son, Ernest Jarvis, to remember the man who paved the way for today’s blood banks.

Top Photo: Dr. Charles Drew in his lab. Courtesy of Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis.

Originally aired August 6, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.