On-Air Highlights

The Backstory to the March

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | Jul 30, 2013 12:13 PM

NPR's Michele Norris -- host of All Things Considered for more than a decade -- is now delivering a variety of features and profiles across NPR. After a yearlong sabbatical, Norris makes her return with The Race Card Project.

Michele developed The Race Card Project to gather conversations about race and cultural identity from everyday people. Individuals are invited to write six-word essays that describe personal stories and insights, with the opportunity to explain the reasons or stories behind the essays. She has received tens of thousands of submissions already via Twitter and The Race Card Project site.

This August, Morning Edition features segments each Wednesday from Michele Norris 'The Race Card Project. These segments give the backstory of people who participated in the March on Washington in 1963.

The Race Card Project: Jack Hansan - Wednesday, August 7
Jack Hansan, a white Cincinnati social worker, came to DC on a chartered train with 500 like-minded people from Ohio. He kept ephemera from the event, some which will post on NPR.org. His stories include a letter from his father asking him not to go. He reads from the postcard he sent back home.

The Race Card Project: Robert Avery - Wednesday, August 14
At 15 years-old, Robert Avery hitchhiked to march with two of his friends from Alabama to Washington, and he met Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before the March. Avery is now working on a journey from Chattanooga to Mississippi to hand carry a letter critical of segregation to then-Gov. Ross Barnett.

The Race Card Project: Edith Lee Payne - Wednesday, August 21
Edith Lee Payne turned 12 the day of the March on Washington, and only learned five years ago that her picture became an iconic image from the '63 March, and it's now in the National Archives. Today she's an activist in Detroit -- a very busy one.

The Race Card Project: DC Cops - Monday, August 26
Two DC policemen, one black, one white, worked the March on Washington. They didn't work together, but talk about being assigned to work with officers from different races, as the DC police department was segregated back in '63. Joe Burden and Marty Niverth recall the day of the March through their eyes as peace officers and citizens.

The Race Card Project: Clarence B. Jones (2 Parts) - Tuesday, August 27 and Wednesday, August 28
In two segments, Michele Norris talks with Rev. Martin Luther King's attorney, Clarence B. Jones. Jones hand carried the scraps of paper King wrote on that became the Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and he drafted the outline for King's March on Washington speech. He talks about Mahalia Jackson's influence to comfort King with song over the phone when he was down, as well as her role goading King to preach "I Have A Dream." Jones talks about the FBI wiretaps of his conversations with King, and the story behind the promissory note allusion in King's Dream speech.

Hear these segments on Morning Edition Wednesdays on witf.

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