In early 2007, StoryCorps launched an effort to collect interviews about African American life. Called StoryCorps Griot, it was our first major recording initiative, and it set the blueprint for much of what would follow, including Historias, Military Voices, and Outloud. Now, a decade later, the Griot collection includes nearly 10,000 interviews from all across the country, covering everything from major historical events to small, intimate portraits of beloved family members. 

In 2017, to mark the first 10 years of the initiative, we sat down for a conversation with Melvin Reeves, who designed and launched StoryCorps Griot, and also ran our education program, StoryCorpsU. We also highlight several stories from the collection, including the memories of an African American World War II veteran and the legacy of the first black inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

As a web bonus, we also spoke with a member of the StoryCorps Archive team, Tamara Thompson, about how Griot interviews have been used by other organizations and institutions, including our partner for the project, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Released March 1, 2017.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
The Roots – “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round”
Gramatik – “A Bright Day”
Charles Mingus – “She’s Just Miss Popular Hybrid” and “Myself When I Am Real”
Nicholas Payton  – “Nick@Night”
Abdullah Ibrahim – “Mannenberg Revisited”