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The StoryCorps Griot Project was a year-long initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to gather and preserve the life stories of African American families. The StoryCorps Griot Initiative helped to ensure that the voices, experiences and life stories of African Americans are preserved and presented with dignity. It also built bonds between citizens and broadcast media by celebrating our shared humanity and collective identity.
StoryCorps Griot builds on the success of StoryCorps, created in 2003 by award-winning radio documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay. For the Griot Initiative, a StoryCorps MobileBooth — a mobile recording studio — made stops of up to six weeks in: Atlanta; Newark; Detroit; Chicago; Oakland; Clarksdale, MS; Memphis; Selma and Montgomery. Griot partnered with local public radio stations, historically black colleges and universities and other cultural institutions and membership organizati ons to record and distribute the stories of African American families.
The stories will be archived for future generations at the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress and at NMAAHC. The Griot documents the varied voices of people with roots in the African Diaspora living in the United States. Hear their stories below.
Brigadier General Robert Crear
BG Robert Crear, commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is interviewed by Steven Thrasher, a StoryCorps facilitator in the General’s hometown of Vicksburg, MS. The General speaks about his desire at an early age to become a successful member of the army, his path to the army, his projects in the Corps of Engineers (including his 2003 RIO mission in Iraq), and finally his current job as the first African American President of the Mississippi River Commission.
Charles Scott Sr.
Commander Charles Scott, 79, is interviewed by his longtime friend, Yolande T. Robbins, 67, about his important role at the American Legion Tyner – Ford Post #213 and his military service which earned him multiple awards, including The Bronze Medal.
Bettie Reid Soskin, 86, interviews Lamont Webster, 63, about his upbringing in North Richmond, CA. In the interview, we learn about Lamont’s involvement with the Black Panther Party, the significant African American musical influence in Richmond at the time, and his own family history
Charles Blue Sr.
Charles J. Blue, Sr., 78, is interviewed by his son, Charles J. Blue, Jr., 53, about his personal history that led him to become a church organist and choir director, as well as his interaction and involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s march in Greeensboro and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
Writer and playwright Ben Harris, 66, and painter Allie McGhee, 65, examine their lives as African American artists. The two longtime friends talk about the importance of their high school education and the influence of African American and family history on their works, as well as the difficulties of becoming African American artists.