I’m a Southern white woman, so Black History Month, at least when I was attending a predominantly white elementary and middle school, usually meant revisiting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. If we were lucky, Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks got a few minutes of coverage before lunch. But that was about it, and obviously, that barely scratched the surface of Black history. Fortunately, these days it’s a lot easier to find great information about Black history than our overworked and underpaid public school teachers were able to fit into their curriculums, thanks to the work of so many great authors, journalists, historians, and culture commentators. Here are just a few to highlight the incredible contributions Black people have made not only in history, but right now, right here, today.
For Baratunde, “citizen” is a verb. So on all three seasons of his podcast How To Citizen, he sits down with various changemakers to find out how to be a more active participant in society. From chatting about voting rights, homelessness, and policing to rediscovering public spaces and parks to diving deep into new technology like blockchains and open source code, Baratunde leaves no stone unturned in his quest to help each of us become more empowered, engaged, and empathetic. Become the best citizen you can be with these enlightening and fascinating conversations.
Questlove, the drummer and creative genius behind The Roots, has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and culture and a contacts list that would make Tom Hanks jealous. So when he turns the mic on for his conversations with everyone from iconic movie star Will Smith to gospel innovator Fred Hammond to rappers Doug E. Fresh and Mad Skillz to comedians Seth Rogen and Roy Wood Jr, you know you want to tune in. Often running three hours long, these frank, fresh, and funny conversations have it all: Classic career questions, pop culture commentary, serious history facts, surreal anecdotes about celebrity encounters, and so much more. These interviews truly reign Supreme.
Conspiracy fans, here’s the show for you. Everyone knows that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968; the official story is that a lone gunman shot the reverend from a neighboring hotel bathroom window. After a two-month manhunt, authorities captured and imprisoned James Earl Ray for the murder. But now, new recordings of eyewitness testimony and interviews with Ray paint a different picture: One of a government conspiracy to eliminate the civil rights leader, not only for his anti-racism work but also for his anti-war speeches. The case is so compelling, even some of King’s relatives agreed that Ray had been framed. Hear all the evidence and decide for yourself with The MLK Tapes.
Food. No matter where you’re from in the world, how rich or poor you are, how young or old, we gotta eat. And there’s a lot to learn from our food; it can teach us about cultural norms, agriculture, immigration (forced or otherwise), indigenous preparation techniques, and so much more. On Point of Origin, host Steven Satterfield reveals the stories behind the food we eat: A Nigerian dish with Brazilian origins, British tea from Taiwan and Sri Lanka, the universal cultural importance of bread. Plus, the morality of meat, the ethics of coffee, and the truth about food apartheid. Put some perspective on your plate (and enjoy the mouthwatering details, too!).
Thanks to new movies like The Harder They Fall and Concrete Cowboy, more and more people are realizing that the Wild West was a lot more colorful than they thought. But those films only begin to scratch the surface. Dive deep into the history of Black Cowboys with Zaron Burnett (along with his dad!) and learn about incredible figures from history, from more well-known names like lawman Bass Reeves and certified bada** Stagecoach Mary to less well-known faces like rodeo rider Bill Pickett and singing sensation Panhandle Slim.
This podcast has all the rowdiness, camaraderie, and hilarity of a morning show, thanks to the hosts Angela Yee, Charlamagne Tha God, and DJ Envy, so check out all their conversations and interviews with everyone from Reverend Al Sharpton to Mary J. Blige. But they also include a IDKMYDE (I Didn’t Know, Maybe You Didn’t Either) bonus episode each day, examining different pieces of history or culture. Where did the term “Jim Crow” come from? Did you know Black women helped invent GPS? How much do you know about the Tuskegee Experiment, the origin story of the NAACP, or the slave revolt led by Nat Turner? Tune in and turn up, because it’s time to join The Breakfast Club.
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