African American

The Brian Lehrer Show

Black Ethnics

Monday, July 08, 2013

Christina Greer, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University (Lincoln Center), and author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream (Oxford University Press, 2013) seeks to go beyond the monolithic label "Black-Americans" to look at the issues that unite--and divide--the recent immigrants from native-born. 

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Catching the Wave: Black Surfing Scene Takes Off in the Rockaways

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"I was like, ‘Wow, black guy surfing?’ And they were all crowding around him like he was freaking Mick Jagger or something." — Louis Harris, who was inspired to surf by fellow black athlete.

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The Takeaway

Flawed Drug Policy Highlights Myths Around Race and Drugs

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Drug researcher Carl Hart argues that the ongoing war on drugs continues to disproportionately hurt the black community, while ignoring bigger societal woes like poverty and high school drop out rates. Hart discusses the problems with current drug policies and how they should be changed.

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The Takeaway

Has Obama Narrowed Our Discussion of Race?

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Hermene Hartman was an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama in 2008. Earlier this month we spoke with Ms. Hartman about how she thinks there has been "disappointment in Barack Obama as an African American" and that "there’s been no focus and deliberation with the black community." Her comments elicited a widespread backlash.


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The Takeaway

How the Minstrel Show Influenced Modern Hip-Hop and Comedy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

According to a new book, the minstrel's influence reverberates through popular culture today. The authors trace the tradition to the present day, from rapper Lil Wayne’s music to comedy sketches from Dave Chappelle.

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Transportation Nation

Nation's First Incorporated African-American Town Gets Streetscape Makeover (PICS)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Gateway Welcomes Visitors to Historic Eatonville Near Orlando

(Nicole Creston, WMFE -- Orlando, Fla.) The small town of Eatonville, Fla. just north of Orlando is best known for being the oldest incorporated African-American municipality in the United States. It is also known for being home to historical landmarks like the first Central Florida school for African-Americans, and to notable figures like writer Zora Neale Hurston.

[Listen to this radio report at WMFE.]

This month, the town celebrated its 125th anniversary by cutting the ribbon on the crown jewel of a multi-year beautification project: an archway visible from Interstate 4. The stately structure welcomes visitors to town and gives Eatonville a new sense of identity. It could be the first step in turning the town into a destination for historic tourism.

Maye St. Julien, Chair of the Eatonville Historic Preservation Board, explains the significance of the year 1887 for Eatonville, and why it’s being recognized 125 years later. “What we celebrate is the actual signing of the articles of incorporation making it an official town recognized by the state.”

The town was actually founded in 1881 by a freed slave named Joe Clark, says St. Julien. She says since African-Americans could only buy individual plots of land back then – enough for one house – Clark sought the help of his boss, citrus industry entrepreneur and retired military captain Josiah Eaton.

“The town is named for Mr. Eaton because he was the major contributor and the major supporter of Joe Clark,” says St. Julien. “And he advertised, and you can see on the newspaper back in 1880s, for people of color to come to Eatonville and own your own land, and you could purchase a lot for $35, or $50 if you needed credit. And that’s how this town was made.”

Six years later, in 1887, men from 27 of Eatonville’s 29 families incorporated the town.

“There were 29, but there was a bit of intimidation on the part of the whites when it was learned that the blacks had acquired this much land,” explains St. Julien. “So, two of them became a little concerned and chose not to participate in that, but thank goodness and God bless the 27 who did,” says St. Julien.

Eatonville’s historic main street is East Kennedy Boulevard. From its intersection with I-4, the town’s business district stretches east about five blocks and the whole strip has been completely refurbished. The road has been repaved and repainted, brick pedestrian walkways have been added, and sidewalks are bristling with Florida-friendly flowers and foliage.

Eatonville Mayor Bruce Mount can’t hide his enthusiasm about the changes that district has seen over the past few years. “If you haven’t been down Kennedy Boulevard lately, you will not know Kennedy Boulevard,” says Mount.

City Planners Worked for Two Years to Revive Downtown Eatonville with New Street Pavers, Refurbished Sidewalks, and Shady Trees

Famous African-American institutions including the Hungerford Normal and Industrial School and figures like Hurston shared addresses along the storied piece of pavement.

And now, Eatonville is getting the kind of gateway its leaders say it deserves. A new iron archway mounted on brick columns stretches across Kennedy, facing I-4. A sign at the top extends a welcome to Eatonville and displays information about the historic town and its 125th anniversary. Mount says the whole structure lights up at night.

Writer Zora Neale Hurston Grew Up in Eatonville and Included the Town in Her Novels

“It has a clock on it and it also has some nice plaques on it,” Mount adds. “The Zora Neale Hurston plaque is there, the school [plaque] is there, so that is a very nice theme to the streetscape… The citizens are proud. I’m getting calls all the time.”

The vast majority of those calls about Kennedy’s overhaul are positive, he says.

And so is most of the conversation down the street during a recent lunchtime rush at Vonya’s Southern Cooking Café on Kennedy. The customers were buzzing about Eatonville’s makeover.

“Huge difference already,” says nine-year Eatonville resident Darrius Gallagher. “It should be very beautiful. It’s a very historic town.”

Esther Critton has lived in Eatonville all of her nineteen years. “With them doing the construction, it gives the town a better look and then makes the people feel good, makes the town run smoother,” she says. “So, we’re coming a long way.”

In August 2012, 125 years after the 27 men signed the articles of incorporation for Eatonville, Mayor Mount helped honor those men by cutting the ribbon on the gateway that commemorates the town’s anniversary. The ribbon stretched the full five blocks of the business district, wrapping around the smaller brick columns that now mark the east end of Eatonville on Kennedy.

Those columns, although constructed as part of the same project as the gateway, do not have an arch to support. That seems to be a bit of a problem for one nearby business owner - former Eatonville Mayor Abraham Gordon Junior.

Decorative Columns Mark the East Entrance to Eatonville

Former Mayor Eatonville Abraham Gordon Jr.  Runs Be Back Fish House in Town

Gordon owns the Be Back Fish House, a seafood restaurant and the business closest to those columns. He had a different vision for his end of the street, including a sign identifying the town and, ideally, an archway like the one close to I-4.

“It should’ve been the same height that is down on that end,” says Gordon, “and just had across ‘Welcome to Eatonville’ and that would’ve made it somewhat complete.”Gordon also says the placement of the columns so near his restaurant used up space he was hoping he could dedicate to his customers.

“There’s parking in front of every business in the town of Eatonville,” explains Gordon. “There’s parking in places where there’s no business in the town of Eatonville. And no parking in front of this place, where there is business.”

Instead, he points out, there’s a proliferation of that Florida-friendly foliage, which is mean to enhance the look of the columns but winds up partially obscuring his restaurant from view.

But, he adds, he’s seen the changes Eatonville has undergone since he first arrived in the early 1950s, and he doesn’t want to stand in the way of the town’s evolution. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, and we don’t need any more problems.”

He says Eatonville has come a very long way from the cluster of houses surrounded by dirt roads and strained wastewater systems he first saw, and overall he says the town’s new look is “very nice.”

Eatonville Public Works Director Abraham Canady says, “the construction is a result of a federal grant that was spearheaded by Congresswoman Corrine Brown." She adds, "the grant went through the Federal Highway Administration to Florida Department of Transportation.”

The Project was Made Possible by Help From State and Federal DOT's

Canady says the current construction value of the project is about $1.4 million, and he thinks it’s worth every penny, especially the west end gateway that draws welcome attention to the town.

And that’s just the beginning, according to Mayor Mount. There are more changes coming, starting with plans for more development near the new gateway.

“We want it to be mixed use – amphitheaters, the eateries, the hotels,” he says. “That’s what we want. We want Eatonville, when we’re talking about the future, to be a tourist destination. And because people say, ‘What do you have to sell, what do people have to sell?’ Our history.”

He says Eatonville could capitalize on “historical tourism” and become a destination for visitors looking for a different type of Orlando vacation than the theme parks offer.

Mount says that idea is still in the early stages. Next step – a visioning meeting with the town council as Eatonville continues to evolve…and celebrate its anniversary throughout the year.

Click here to listen to Nicole Creston's report on Eatonville at WMFE. 

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The Takeaway

Fighting AIDS from the Pulpit, Beginning With the Pastor Himself

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Reverend Tony Lee, the pastor of a predominantly African-American church, is doing something unique to combat the AIDS. Four times a year, on the pulpit, he has himself tested for HIV in front of his entire congregation. 

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Why Romney Will Make Gains with Black Voters in November

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I suspect ears of some black voters that had always tuned Romney out listened in and heard a different person than they've been told about.

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Comments [2]

The Takeaway

First Black Marines Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When President Roosevelt ordered in 1942 that the Marine Corps be integrated, around 20,000 African-Americans signed up and were accepted for service. The first African-Americans in the Air Force and the Army — that’s the Tuskegee Airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers — have some renown, but the Montford Point Marines have remained relatively unknown.


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The Takeaway

Juneteenth: The Other Independence Day

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ever since 1776, America has acknowledged July Fourth as our day of independence. But there’s another independence day — today, June 19 — that’s acknowledged by many others as our true day of freedom. Why? Because it was on this date in 1865 that slavery in the United States ended.

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The Takeaway

Black Mormons on This Year's Presidential Election

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Whether you love or hate politics, it’s hard to deny that when it comes to identity and culture, this year’s presidential election is truly historic. The incumbent is, of course, half black and thus, a racial minority. The challenger is Mormon, and thus, a religious minority. What if you’re one of the one million Americans who is both black and Mormon? How does identity factor in? Two African-American Mormons join us today to share their thoughts.

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The Takeaway

Why Aren't There More Minorities in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Few sports have been more racially divided than golf. Realizing that the NCAA was not inviting athletes from historically black colleges and Hispanic- and Native American-serving institutions to compete in their regional golf tournaments, the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship was created to open the doors. In recent years, however, there appear to be fewer and fewer minorities in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship.

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The Takeaway

Black Politics in 'Post-Racial' America

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

In 2007, during his contentious primary race with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama spent a week campaigning with Newark Mayor Corey Booker and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. The media continually highlighted the difference between these three young, African-American politicians and the generation of black leaders that came before them. A new book by Professor Andra Gillespie examines the new generation of black politicians exemplified by President Obama through the lens of Cory Booker's mayoral election and his tenure in Newark.

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The Takeaway

An Infamous Dinner: Washington, Roosevelt and Race in America

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

When Sen. John McCain conceded the presidency to Barack Obama, McCain said: "A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time." Author Deborah Davis chronicles that dinner, its aftermath, and the lives of Roosevelt and Washington in her new book.

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The Takeaway

Racism Is Crippling African-American Advances in Mathematics

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In a column that quickly got him fired from his post at National Review, John Derbyshire offered some parental advice that he gives his own children when teaching them about the African-American community. This advice, he says, "may save their lives." One point he argues is that the "mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites.” Much has been written about the falsity of his claims and the racist undertones of his overall argument. But derbyshire is correct in writing that there are "no black Fields Medal winners." Jonathan Farley is a professor of mathematics and recipient of the Harvard Foundation's Scientist of the Year medal in 2004. He explains why no African-Americans have yet to receive the prestigious Fields Medal.

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The Takeaway

Is the Trayvon Martin Case an Example of Tension Between Black and Latino Communities?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The commonalities and tensions between the black and Latino communities in the United States — and in particular, in the American south — have been a source of much discussion in the Trayvon Martin case. On yesterday's program, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson mentioned some dramatic statistics on how blacks and Latinos in the American south perceive one another. Duke researchers found that an overwhelming majority of Latinos in Durham, North Carolina, 78 percent, felt they had the most in common with whites. What’s more, nearly 60 percent of Latinos surveyed reported they believed that few or almost no blacks were hard-working or could be trusted.

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The Takeaway

Incarceration in America: Barriers to Re-entry

Thursday, March 22, 2012

All this week, we’re talking about incarceration in America. Today we're focusing on life after prison, and what happens to former inmates once they're released. Joining us is Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" and law professor at Ohio State University, and Susan Burton, Founder and Executive Director of A New way of Life Re-Entry Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women break the cycle of incarceration.

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The Takeaway

Why Don't More African-Americans Seek Higher Office?

Friday, March 16, 2012

When President Obama became the first black president in 2008, it seemed to mark a tremendous historical turning point for black representation in American political life. But four years later there has been no great renaissance in black electoral representation. If the number of office-holders was demographically proportionate, there would be at least 12 African American senators and six governors. In reality, there are currently no African-American senators and only one African-American governor in office.

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The Takeaway

Excerpt: "Our Black Year"

Thursday, March 01, 2012

It all started with dinner.

In 2004 my husband, John, and I were celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. That night we were the only Black people at Tru, a five-star restaurant in Chicago’s ultra-exclusive Gold Coast neighborhood. Instead of enjoying the romance of the moment, though, I ruined it by bringing up the discouraging status of Blacks in America. Although we moved on to other topics, they all seemed to lead us back to how fortunate we were and how we should be doing more to help improve the situation— The Black Situation.

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The Takeaway

Comedian Baratunde Thurston on 'How to Be Black'

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February is Black History Month, and comedian Baratunde Thurston wants you to know that it's the perfect time to buy his new book, "How to Be Black." "The odds are high that you acquired this book during the nationally sanctioned season for purchasing black cultural objects, also known as Black History Month," he writes. "If you're like most people, you buy one piece of black culture per year during this month, and I'm banking on this book jumping out at you from the bookshelf or screen." Baratunde Thurston joins Celeste Headlee to discuss his new book: part-memoir, part-satire, part-political commentary.

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