ELA High School
Langston Hughes, an African American writer who lived and wrote during the first half of the 20th century, remains one of the most celebrated writers in American history. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. In this story, a woman is pleasantly surprised to find one of his poems among her granddaughter’s school papers. She shares with her granddaughter the many things she admired about Hughes, and the many reasons he was such an influential poet and person during his time. She speaks about Hughes’s early life, his travels, and his lyrical poetry. Listen to learn more about this famous poet, who continues to inspire younger generations today.
ELA High School
The play "A Raisin in the Sun," by Lorraine Hansberry, reveals the struggles black families faced as they attempted to achieve the American dream in the 1950s. The play follows the lives of a working class family - the Youngers - from the South Side of Chicago. The Younger family recently received an insurance check, and have an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. The audio story offers listeners a glimpse into an alarming event that happened to author Hansberry’s family when they moved into a white neighborhood during segregation. Learn about the play, "A Raisin in the Sun," as well as why "A Raisin in the Sun" made such an impact on American theater. Perhaps most importantly, listen to this story to find what Lorraine Hansberry’s motivation was for writing this iconic story.
ELA High School
In Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella "Heart of Darkness," an English sailor tells the tale of his voyage on the Congo River in Africa. The novel, which is set during the height of British imperialism in Africa, contrasts “civilized” Europeans with “uncivilized” African natives and describes the brutal treatment of Africans by European traders. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart" provides a contrast to Conrad’s story, describing the British colonization of Africa from the perspective of Africans. In this audio story, Achebe talks about how his understanding of "Heart of Darkness" changed over time.
Current Event March 17, 2016
Many of the characters in books written for students are white males. They don’t reflect everyone’s background. One girl became frustrated when she couldn’t connect to the characters. In response, she began to gather books about black girls and then give these books to schools. Now that she has exceeded her original goal and collected almost 4,000 books, the girl has started to consider how to impact schools in an even larger way. Listen to the story hear more about this remarkable campaign.
ELA Middle School
In 2015, the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees as wars and political instability continue to drive people from their home countries. Resettlement isn’t easy for the person coming to a new country. One of those people, Barwaqo Mohamed was born and grew up in Somalia, but came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 2006. In this audio story, Barwaqo talks about her experience as an immigrant with a journalist who volunteered to tutor her in English for over four years. Barwaqo describes herself as a natural at learning languages and that helped her fit in. Listen to the interview to learn how that skill has served her since she came to the U.S.
Current Event February 26, 2016
The annual Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest and most glamorous event, will air this Sunday night. Amid the excitement, there is some controversy. For the second year in a row, there are no nominees of color in the acting categories. The lack of diversity in nominees could reflect a larger pattern in the industry since many of Hollywood’s most influential people, both in front of and behind the camera, are white. Listen to this story and debate with your students: Should there be more diversity at the Oscars?
Current Event February 15, 2016
As the presidential primaries continue, voters in the Democratic party are split between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Next up to vote: South Carolina. An important voting block for the Democratic party in the south is African Americans. And in South Carolina, as this story explains, black voters appear to be split between Sanders and Clinton. Listen to this story to hear from college students who are still undecided about who to support.
Current Event February 4, 2016
China sends more students to the United States than any other country, and a growing number of them are teenagers. More than 23,000 Chinese teens attend U.S. high schools, hoping to get into a good college. These students are exposed to a very different kind of education than in their home country. Money is not a barrier for many families, and there are many tutoring centers that add to the costs of private schools. Loneliness can be a problem for foreign students and some act out. Listen to this story to hear more about these Chinese teenagers in U.S. schools.
Current Event January 15, 2016
The name of President Woodrow Wilson is on programs and buildings at Princeton University and students are calling for its removal. The former president is remembered for his progressive views, but his record on race is divisive as he actively supported segregation. Some think his legacy is now disputed, and his name should be removed. Others think the answer is not to deny history but to understand it. Listen to this story with students and debate the issue of whether historic figures should be held to contemporary standards.
Current Event November 19, 2015
At the University of Missouri several racially charged events went unaddressed. Racist graffiti, open racial slurs and simmering racial tension were met with no response from the school’s administration. Out of frustration, many students protested. One graduate student went on a hunger strike and the football team refused to play until the President of the university resigned. The pressure by students forced the President, as well as the Chancellor, to step down. Listen to this story to hear more about the message this sends to the students on this campus.
Current Event October 28, 2015
At a High School in Baltimore, racial tensions flared last year between African Americans and Latinos. Some students stayed home from school to avoid the fighting, and some were fearful of what would happen off of school grounds. A program called SPIRIT recently started that helps students deal with these racial tensions. Students are given the chance to talk about the challenges within the school and hear from other students. They talk about what needs fixing and propose solutions. Listen to this story to hear more about how this program helped students talk about race.
Current Event September 18, 2015
Colleges compete to enroll the best students. Traditional admission methods look at SAT and ACT test scores, GPAs and extracurricular activities. Now there is an increasingly popular trend: colleges that tell students the SAT and ACT are optional. They are choosing not to emphasize standardized test scores in their admissions decisions. The hope is that this will diversify enrollment and open doors for underrepresented populations. But there is some evidence that it does not achieve those goals. For example, test-optional colleges may increase their applicant pool but not their enrollment numbers. Listen to hear both sides of this debate.
Current Event September 3, 2015
The phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” has become a rallying cry and trending hashtag across the country. The expression, “to throw your hands up,” can indicate hopelessness or that something is too difficult to continue, which resonates with how helpless some feel after the many incidents of shootings of black men by police. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is used to protest police abuses and started after the death of Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last August. Some officers say this chant makes teens more emboldened and non-compliant with the police, along with being a questionable retelling of the events of Michael Brown’s death. Listen to hear how this chant is seen in different ways to different people.
Current Event September 2, 2015
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech at the March on Washington in 1963 known as the "I Have A Dream" speech. The year before, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech in Rocky Mount, N.C that anticipated the famous speech. A recording of the first known version of the "I Have A Dream" speech was recently discovered by a professor at North Carolina State. Listen to hear about this speech and the memories of someone who heard it first as a high school student in 1962.
Current Event August 19, 2015
Historically slaves in the United States are depicted as uneducated farm hands on plantations in the South. But that wasn’t true for all slaves. One famous slave named Yarrow Mamout was an educated Muslim who earned his freedom and even had his portrait painted by a famous American painter. He was a entrepreneur, money-lender and stock-owner, as well as having a reputation for being honest and moral. Archaeologists are trying to find out more about Yarrow Mamout by excavating a plot of land in Georgetown where he owned a home from 1796 until his death in 1823. Listen to this story to learn why this former slave is so well-known and respected.
Current Event July 7, 2015
In June a 21-year-old white man entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the bible study, and then shot and killed nine of the black church members. The alleged shooter was later identified as Dylann Roof, a self proclaimed white supremacist who photographed himself with a Confederate flag and hoped to start a race war. Listen to this story to learn how the attack has reignited the debate about the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.
Update: South Carolina Governor signed a bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds on July 9, 2015.