Menaja Obinali was born in 1948 and grew up in Franklin, a small Louisiana town. She was one of eleven children, and loved dancing, reading and making art as a teenager. One day an unexpected event shifted the course of Menaja’s life.

Undaunted, Menaja went on to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and later moved to Dallas to get a master’s degree in theology. That’s when she moved in with her sister Connie and 5-year-old niece, Jarie.

Jarie, who still lives in Dallas, interviewed Menaja for StoryCorps when the Mobile Tour passed through in 2014.

Photo: Jarie Bradley and Menaja Obinali at their first StoryCorps interview in Dallas, Texas on December 13, 2014. By Callie Thuma for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired June 23, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.