The Rapidian

NPR Special Correspondent to speak on the conversation of race

Michele Norris, National Public Radio's (NPR) first African-American female host, will share her experience with secrets being kept from her about her parents’ past and why it's important to discuss race in the family.

/Courtesy of Keppler Speakers

On March 12, Special Correspondent for NPR and journalist Michele Norris will be speaking at Fountain Street Church for Grand Rapids Community College’s Diversity Lecture Series.

Her lecture will be based off her book "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir," which was first intended to be on “America’s hidden conversation on race,” but in the process of investigation, she found out that she herself had been in the dark about her own family’s secrets. She learned that her father had been shot by white police officers in Birmingham, Alabama after just serving in the military for World War II. In addition, she discovered that her mother worked as an itinerant for Aunt Jemima. While conducting the pancake mix demonstrations, she would dress in a hoop skirt and apron with a bandana on her head.

“What I did not realize until recently is that I was also shaped by the weight of their silence. I now understand that I was molded in myriad ways by those things they never talked about but that nonetheless dictated how they lived their lives. Silence, I learned, had its rewards- and its costs,” Norris says.

Norris’ mission is to inspire families to change the way they discuss race within the family and to engage more in “real conversation” on the subject. 

"Consider the core question: How well do we really know the people who raised us," says Norris.

"Eavesdropping on America's Conversation on Race with Michele Norris" will take place on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. This event is free and open to the public. 

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