Michele Norris: The Grace of Silence

TUE, DEC 7, 2010 (1:16:53)

WABE's Valerie Jackson, host of Between the Lines, speaks with Michele Norris during the recording of her radio program. In the wake of talk of a “post-racial America” upon the ascendance of Barack Obama as president of the United States, Michele Norris, host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, set out, through original reporting, to write a book about “the hidden conversation on race” that is going on in this country. But along the way she unearthed painful family secrets—from her father’s shooting by the Birmingham police within weeks of his discharge from service in World War II to her grandmother’s peddling pancake mix as an itinerant Aunt Jemima.

In what became an intensely personal and bracing journey, Norris traveled from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South to explore “things left unsaid” by her family when she was growing up. Along the way she discovers how character is forged by both repression and revelation. She learns how silence became a form of self-protection and a means of survival for her parents—strivers determined to create a better life for their children at a time when America was beginning to experiment with racial equality—as it was for white Americans who grew up enforcing strict segregation (sometimes through violence) but who now live in a world where integration is the norm.

+ BIO: Michele Norris

Michele Norris, an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience, hosts NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered, public radio's longest-running national program, with Robert Siegel and Melissa Block. Norris began hosting All Things Considered on December 9, 2002.

Before coming to NPR, Norris was a correspondent for ABC News, a position she held from 1993 to 2002. As a contributing correspondent for the Closer Look segments on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Norris reported extensively on education, inner city issues, the nation's drug problem and poverty. Norris has also reported for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Her Washington Post series about a six-year-old who lived in a crack house was reprinted in the book Ourselves Among Others, along with essays by Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Annie Dillard and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Partner
Jimmy Carter Library and Museum
Series
African American Culture Series
African Culture Series
Civil Rights Movement Series
NPR Hosts and Correspondents Series