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Illustration of volleyball player with American flag | Image credit:    Carson McNamara Illustration

Illustration of volleyball player with American flag | Image credit: Carson McNamara Illustration

The Right to dissent

Influenced by Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality during the National Anthem, a high school volleyball player initiates her own protest, but not without consequences.

This is Episode 1 of 5 of American Dissent, a podcast I hosted and produced for James Madison’s Montpelier and With Good Reason at Virginia Humanities.

People drinking whiskey | Image credit: Pixabay

People drinking whiskey | Image credit: Pixabay

American Spirits

Craft distilleries are popping up in small towns and big cities across America. In this episode, I connected the present to the past as I uncovered little-known stories of American spirits, from a recently revived 19th-century julep recipe to an event that draws “women who whiskey.” I did a tasting with two craft distilleries and talked with a scholar about early American spirits.

This is a special holiday episode I hosted and produced for With Good Reason.

Frank Newsome and grandchild at Little David Old Regular Baptist Church in Haysi, Virginia | Image credit: Kelley Libby

Frank Newsome and grandchild at Little David Old Regular Baptist Church in Haysi, Virginia | Image credit: Kelley Libby

Frank newsome and the hymns of the Old regular baptists

Elder Frank Newsome was born in Pike County, Kentucky and is one of 22 children. Much of his early career was spent in the coal mines of far southwest Virginia. In 2014, writer Nell Boeschenstein and I visited Newsome and his family in Haysi and made recordings of his church services along with reflections on his music and life.

This audio documentary aired on With Good Reason and Inside Appalachia.

Enjoli Moon on 2nd Street in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond | Photo by Michael K. Lease

Enjoli Moon on 2nd Street in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond | Photo by Michael K. Lease

When a Restaurant Job was Divinely Ordered

Enjoli Moon is the founder and creative director of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival. The festival brings filmmakers to Richmond from all over the world. But Moon doesn’t come from the filmmaking world. In this segment, she shares her memories of a Richmond restaurant that inspired her to create something new and different in the city.

This story is part of UnMonumental, a community storytelling series I produced in Richmond, Virginia in partnership with WVTF/Radio IQ, and AIR, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Bill Harrison at Diversity Richmond, which operates a thrift store | Photo by Michael K. Lease

Bill Harrison at Diversity Richmond, which operates a thrift store | Photo by Michael K. Lease

When a Gay Bar in Richmond was an Introduction to a Community

Bill Harrison is the executive director of Diversity Richmond, which serves Central Virginia's LGBTQ communities. Harrison grew up in the small farming community of Emporia, Virginia and moved to Richmond as an adult. The week this story aired, he led a vigil for the victims of the June 12, 2016 shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Here he shares about the significance of gay bars in Richmond.

This story is part of UnMonumental, a community storytelling series I produced in Richmond, Virginia in partnership with WVTF/Radio IQ, and AIR, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Michelle Taylor with log cabin under construction at James Madison’s Montpelier | Image courtesy: Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor with log cabin under construction at James Madison’s Montpelier | Image courtesy: Michelle Taylor

A Researcher Reconnects With Her Ancestors' Slave Past At Madison's Estate

“When I looked at the landscape at Montpelier, you see mountains and acres and acres of empty land, and it made me think about my ancestors not having an opportunity to go anywhere, nowhere to run away,” Taylor says. “It was very emotional, just being able to know that I had an opportunity — I could have left at any time — but I wanted to be there to make a difference and rebuild this home that represents where my family would have lived during that time period.”

I produced this story for NPR’s All Things Considered.

Shenandoah Harmony tune book | Image credit: Sarah Cumming

Shenandoah Harmony tune book | Image credit: Sarah Cumming

Shenandoah Valley Shape Note Singers

“Contributor Kelley Libby visits a shape note sing event in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Sometimes this style of singing is referred to as Sacred Harp. That’s because there’s an old tune book called The Sacred Harp, and most shape note singers use it, especially in the deep South.”

This story was commissioned by the Authentic US podcast, hosted and produced by Tanner Latham.