This morning, I had the opportunity to witness Michele Norris of NPR’s “All Things Considered” give a keynote presentation at the University of Michigan’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.
I do not know Michele, did not know what she looked like until about 6 years ago but I have loved her for the last 12+ years. It is that voice… The magic of radio. Her interesting since of humor. How she processes and conveys information to her audience. I love it all.
When I learned that she was taking a break from “All Things Considered” during this election cycle, I was bummed…. Like really. So when I saw that she was going to be in my area, I KNEW that I would be there….
As usual, I was running late & got to the address just as it was starting.
When Michele hit the stage, I actually closed my eyes for a while. It was like some kind of large live NPR episode. Kinda nerdy of me but you know how I do.
Her talk centered around activism, leadership & history. She told several family stories about her father and grandmother that were penetrating. She shared with us how her grandmother used to dress as Aunt Jemima and travel throughout the Midwest doing pancake demonstrations. She told us how in 1946 her father was attacked and shot by the police before being jailed in Birmingham after coming back from war. And much more!
The jarring thing about the stories is that she did not learn of much of her family history until her father and grandmother had passed. She linked this to “ The Grace of Silence.”
Why be silent? Can silence breed a form of activism? Does this change the dynamic of family secrets? Forbidden information???
Additionally, throughout her talk, she dropped tons of historic knowledge tied to the civil rights era & before. She mentioned Isaac Woodard, Timothy Hood, The Boswell Amendment, Smith v. Allwright, Martin Luther King Jr.’s last meal of catfish & hush puppies…
After the presentation, the audience was presented with “race cards” where we were encouraged to discuss race in six words or less. I was pretty excited about having some race cards that I could play at will.
Michele’s presentation overall was a great way to kickoff my day. I mean, it was a very good day. Spent time with friends, had a good dinner & got a new graphic design project.
This MLK Day, I stayed winning.