In The Telling: Black Family Podcast

Chronicling the Black family experience is an exciting project for us. Documentation does not always involve something tangible; it is sometimes in the telling. If we are fortunate, we learn our past from those who lived it. Oftentimes, it is by our own efforts and labor to uncover pieces of truth about our family history. This is what we will explore in this bi-weekly podcast, people sharing stories about their families and how they came to learn them.

Contact us if you would like to be a guest on the show.

Season 1
Season 2
Episode 13Language of Intimacy
00:00 / 46:33

In this episode, Dr. Maboula Soumahoro talks her Côte d'Ivoire heritage and the complexities of being born in France.

Dr. Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Tours, France, where she also received her PhD. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies (Atlantic), Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France: Bennington College, Columbia University (New York and Paris), Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative (Bayview Correctional Facility), Stanford University (Paris), Sciences Po (Paris and Reims), the prisons in Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (juvenile detention), and Fresnes. From 2013 to 2016, Dr. Soumahoro served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. Since 2013, she is also the president of the Black History Month (BHM), an organization dedicated to the celebration of Black history and cultures throughout the world. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte).

The Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP) is seeking submissions for The Evidence: Black Archivists Holding Memory, an anthology exploring the archival experience across Africa and the African Diaspora. We understand that the global Black archival experience is a complex one and converging over time, space, and memory. We acknowledge and affirm archiving our stories is a cultural and political act. Learn more about the project here

Music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 12Black Love is the Cure
00:00 / 25:39

Flip Couto is the Executive director of "Aliança Pró Saúde da População Negra" (Alliance for the Health of the Black Population), founder of Collective AMEM (group of black queer artists), dancer at Sansa-croma company and member of House of Zion.

He is an HIV+ brazilian dancer, performer, cultural mischief maker and curator who interrogates, redefines and creates a diverse range of spaces and actions athwart the periphery of São Paulo culture.

As a South American gay black male who is publicly open about his HIV status, Flip uses his own body as source material. Working within and across several companies, projects, different community groups and networks both physically and on online including --art, urban spaces, dance battles, balls, performances and theatre--his practice is always searching for a transit between these spaces, which provides and provokes a creative-socio-political conversation within the gaps and silences in the Brazilian QPOC community and the wider public.

In this interview, he speaks about the value of family, his biological family, his partner, and the House of Zion. 

The Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP) is seeking submissions for The Evidence: Black Archivists Holding Memory, an anthology exploring the archival experience across Africa and the African Diaspora. Please submit proposals here.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 11From Tennessee to Arkansas
00:00 / 32:08

In this episode, librarian and genealogist Phillip Bond talks about the maternal and paternal matriarchs of his family, Venus Bond and Ella Dockery,  the impossible odds they had against them and the incredible legacy they left behind.

Phillip Bond has been working in public libraries for 15 years. Beginning his career as a public librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library, he uses the diverse backdrop of the changing Brooklyn Borough to create projects, events, and programs around archives, photography, oral histories, podcasting, and genealogy. The Milwaukee native has a personal invested interest in the research of his African American Southern roots, by way of Tennessee and Arkansas, having traced his family lineage back 6 generations to the 1700's. He currently resides in Washington DC and works as an Adult Literacy and Technology Librarian in South East DC for the DC Public Library.

The Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP) is seeking submissions for The Evidence: Black Archivists Holding Memory, an anthology exploring the archival experience across Africa and the African Diaspora. Please submit proposals here.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Season 1
Episode 10Always from New York
00:00 / 30:55

Where are you from? Where are your families from? Dr. Stanton Biddle began his family research in response to these questions from classmates while in grade school in rural western New York State, which was largely white. His initial questions: when did his African American ancestors come to New York; where did they come from and why did they come? These questions gave way to other questions. Fortunately, his family had amassed significant documentation of their presence in New York going back many generations. In this episode, Dr. Biddle talks about applying his library research skills to his quest to document his family’s unique history. 

Dr. Stanton Biddle is a retired librarian whose career spanned nearly fifty years. He held positions at the Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, Howard University, SUNY at Buffalo, and finally Baruch College at the City University of New York. His time at New York Public included seven years at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture where he served as reference librarian, archivist, and research project director. Dr. Biddle was born and raised in a rural and predominantly white area of western New York State. He has cultivated a lifelong interest in African American history and culture. His focus in retirement has been on genealogy, primarily involving his own African American family that has been based in western New York for over two hundred years.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 9Through the Fire
00:00 / 26:31

Eric Darnell Pritchard is an award-winning writer, cultural critic, and an Associate Professor of English at the University at Buffalo. He is also faculty at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Eric is the author of Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy and editor of “Sartorial Politics, Intersectionality, and Queer Worldmaking,” a special issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. Pritchard’s writings on fashion, popular culture, literacy, rhetoric, and pedagogies have been published in multiple venues including the International Journal of Fashion Studies, Harvard Educational Review, Visual Anthropology, Literacy in Composition Studies, and ARTFORUM. Currently, he is completing two books: a historical ethnography of Black queer feminist literacy activism and a biography of 1980s international fashion superstar Patrick Kelly.

In this episode, Eric shares a story about his family who suffered two house fires (one when he was an infant) and how family photographs gained an even more important significance his my elders that has been passed down in various ways. Learn more about Eric's work here: https://www.ericdarnellpritchard.com/

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 8The Chosen Ones
00:00 / 29:47

If we are fortunate, we have our biological families and our chosen families. Our history as African Americans is a complicated, often painful one. As descendants of enslaved people, we lived with the omnipresent possibility of separation through the sale of our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. After coming out to their family, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people also suffered the loss of family members. This episode shares the beautiful story of Lee Levingston Perine and Patience, two queer African Americans who chose each other as family, a quality that both the Black and LGBTQ communities have been doing for centuries. 

Lee is a Washington, DC-based project manager, event planner and creative. He has planned or helped plan everything from weddings to nonprofit events to an LGBTQ+ music festival headlined by the Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia. He’s the founder of Makers Lab and his latest project is a virtual Black Pride Festival happening this May.

Patience is a creator, actress, vocalist, and writer native to Washington, D.C; a creative with a passion for the spoken word and sound healing. She is most recently recognized as the "Scat" of the Peace & Bodyroll Duo BOOMscat. Patience is an artist who creates collages for your listening pleasure. If you listen closely you may feel her heart between your ears.

Learn about Black in Space here!

Music by Sean Bempong 

Episode 7Self-Awareness and the Dysfunctional Family
00:00 / 27:40

Building a healthy life can be difficult. Doing it while engaging dysfunctional family members can be insufferable. Carla Whyte, an educator from Brooklyn, NY, knows this struggle intimately. As the only person in her immediate family to participate extensively in therapy, Carla considers what it means to strive to be well in a toxic family environment. The Brooklynite has been teaching for about a decade (ESL and history to middle and high schoolers), first in South Korea, then Liberia, Guinea, France, and now she is back in New York. Carla studied sociology as an undergraduate where she became fascinated with race relations in professional and collegiate spaces, as well as disparities in educational access, particularly for black people. While she enjoys teaching, Carla also has an interest in tapping into her creative side through blogging and podcasting.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 6In Ordinary Acts of Magic
00:00 / 25:46

Join us this episode as we speak with Katherine “Kat” Cheairs, a filmmaker, educator, curator, activist and community artist. Kat’s areas of interest and research include: HIV & AIDS; visual culture; media arts therapy; community arts; and, critical race theory in art education. Ms. Cheairs is a co-curator of Metanoia: Transformation Through AIDS Archives and Activism, an archival exhibition focusing on the contributions of Black women, transwomen of color, and women of color HIV/AIDS activists from the early 1990s to the present. Ms Cheairs is the producer and director of the documentary, Ending Silence, Shame & Stigma: HIV/AIDS in the African American Family. Kat’s new project in development, In This House, is a video installation exploring HIV/AIDS narratives through the Black body. Kat has appeared and presented on panels at the Tribeca Film Institute, BAM, Pratt Institute, The New School, New York University, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Aperture Foundation, and UnionDocs.

Kat shares her memories of visiting her maternal grandparent's home in the summer time in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 5Grief as a Family Story
00:00 / 29:36

Alexis De Veaux was born and raised in Harlem. She is the product of two merging streams of black history in New York City--immigrants from the Caribbean on her mother’s side and migrants from North Carolina on her father’s side who settled in Harlem in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. The second of eight children, that history was embedded in her mother’s view of life: as she would say, “you got three strikes against you. You poor, you black, and you female.” But Alexis was drawn to the world of words and books, and literature soon became the means by which she re-imagined the world her mother understood. She is the author of many books including Na-Ni, (1973); Spirits in the Street (1974); Blue Heat: A Portfolio of Poems & Drawings (1985); Don't Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday (1988) and Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (2004) and Yabo (2014).

In this episode, Alexis talks about grief and loss as emotional states impacting black family life from her point of view. Check out the photographs above for the images of the bookstate Alexis made for her sister Renee.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 4Speaking Through Edith
00:00 / 31:13

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a community-cherished writer, a queer Black feminist scholar and an aspirational cousin to you and everyone you know. Alexis is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke Press, 2016), M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke Press 2018) and Dub: Finding Ceremony (Duke Press, 2020). She is also the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). The Anguilla Literary Festival called Alexis "The Pride of Anguilla." A Publisher's Weekly starred review of her most recent book called her work "groundbreaking." Bitch Magazine calls Alexis "a literary treasure." North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green says "Like Audre Lorde, Gumbs writes for the complexity of her vision." A proud Barnard graduate, Alexis was the first person to research in the archival papers of Audre Lorde at Spelman College, June Jordan at Harvard University and Lucille Clifton at Emory University during her research for her dissertation "We Can Learn to Mother Ourselves," towards the completion of her doctorate in English, African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Duke University. Alexis is now the provost of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind in Durham, NC, and co-founder of the Black Feminist Bookmobile, Black Feminist Film School and the Mobile Homecoming Trust Living Library and Archive of Queer Black Brilliance. Alexis is also Creative Writing Editor of Feminist Studies and celebrant in residence at NorthStar Church of the Arts in Durham, NC.

Original music by Sean Bempong.

Episode 3Being Raised by Ethel and Thelma
00:00 / 27:43

In this episode of In the Telling, Christopher Stahling talks about his two seminal figures in his life, his grandmothers Ethel and Thelma. Both women lived together in Harlem and deeply impacted Christopher as a youngster, though differently.  Join us for enjoyable and thoughtful stories about these two special women--and learn about Chris, too!

Christopher Stahling is life coach, mixed media visual artist, caterer and healer. Native Harlemite. That's him in the photo, you'll learn that he's so much more. Have a listen. 

Follow him on IG @insatiablelion. 

Original music by Sean Bempong

Episode 2Searching for John Mims
00:00 / 01:04

In our second episode, we interview Miranda Mims, co-founder of the Nomadic Archivist Project (NAP), an initiative devoted to developing relationships and beginning conversations around preserving legacy, memory, connection, and trust in the African diaspora. She is the Special Collections Archivist for Discovery and Access and Curator of modern literature and publishers, human rights and social justice, and local LGBTQ history and culture in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) at the University of Rochester. Miranda has been actively researching her family history for the last 15 years, from reconstructing the lives of her grandmothers, Fannie Pearl Bowen and Lucella Atwater Stillwell, to her efforts in uncovering the truth about her great Grandfather, John Mims. It has been hard at times because there are so many missing records, including the 1890 census - which could have been an important piece to John's story, if it wasn't destroyed in a fire in 1921. 

 

*After hearing this episode, my mother told me my first time involved in genealogical research was when I was a month old when she took me to a census-taking training.

Original music by Sean Bempong

 

Glad you are here to join us on our very first episode of In the Telling!

Our first episode features NAP's co-founder Steven G. Fullwood - writer, archivist, and amateur photographer and filmmaker. His published works include Black Gay Genius (2014), and Carry the Word: A Bibliography of Black LGBTQ Books (2007). Fullwood is the former associate curator of the Manuscripts, Archives & Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He is the co-founder of the Nomadic Archivists Project, an initiative that partners with organizations, institutions, and individuals to establish, preserve, and enhance collections that explore the African Diasporic experience. He’s currently exploring his filmmaking interests through documentary work. He is a regular contributor to the American Age podcast. Fullwood enjoys reading about neuroscience, astrophysics, and watching science and nature documentaries.

Original music by Sean Bempong

Episode 1Elaine's Boy
00:00 / 01:04

© 2020 The Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP)

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