WCSU

Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

The hip-hop drama chronicling the ups and downs of record mogul Lucious Lyon and his family became the breakout hit of last year, and the breakout hit of the show was Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie Lyon.

Cookie is the ex-wife of drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon (portrayed by Terrence Howard), and the character is famous for speaking without a filter.

"My parents are both Indian," Ravi Patel explains during an interview as he fixes a cup of chai for a visitor. "And we were born here. And while they grew up the Old School way, not dating, having family put them together, we're like, American. Even though in many important ways we're very Indian."

Photographer Tony Gleaton died last Friday at the age of 67 after struggling with a particularly aggressive cancer for 18 months. He was working, signing prints, talking to museums (several have his work in their collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Harvard's Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem) and checking in with his friends right up to the last day. I admired his work, but also treasured his friendship.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

John A. Williams might be one of the most prolific writers most people have never heard of.

Although he was often compared to Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Williams didn't much like that. He felt that when black writers were lumped together by the literary establishment, only one at a time would be allowed to succeed. His novels, which were always focused through the prism of race and were told from his black characters' point of view, were well-reviewed. But Williams never reached the level of fame of writers like Wright, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

Over the weekend, The New Republic posted a 10,000-word essay by black academic and author Michael Eric Dyson that's created quite a buzz within a certain segment of black America.

Oprah's Book Club has turned unknown authors into superstars. Her latest selection is the novel Ruby. The book is set in an all-black hamlet called Liberty Township, in East Texas, and is part of a planned trilogy by first-time author Cynthia Bond.

The movie Selma opened to high praise on Christmas Day — Variety says director Ava DuVernay delivers "a razor-sharp portrait of the civil rights movement." The film focuses on a 1965 voting rights march from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery — a march remembered for the savage beatings participants sustained at the hands of both state and local police.

The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country.

"I don't feel that personally I've benefited from being white. That's because I grew up relatively poor," a participant shared. "My father worked at a factory." These are the kinds of unfiltered comments that filmmaker Whitney Dow was hoping to hear when he started recording a group of white people, and hoped to turn their responses into provocative, interactive videos.

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she'd never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs' cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she'd graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

Novelist Diana Gabaldon writes books that sell like crazy but are hard to categorize. Her Outlander series, featuring a determined heroine who falls backward through time to the 18th century Scottish Highlands, has made Gabaldon both wealthy and famous.

Rachel Howzell Hall is easing her big, laurel green Mercedes sedan through the streets of Los Angeles. A slim woman with big eyes, Hall says this Benz is her dream car, the thing she'd planned to buy for herself once she'd become a successful writer, probably around age 50.

But something happened to speed up her schedule.

"When I was 33 years old," Hall says, "I was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer. And I was pregnant. And it was terrifying."

Writer Walter Dean Myers died on Wednesday after a brief illness at age 76, leaving mourners in the adult world and young readers who saw themselves in his books. He expanded the face of publishing so that many children of color saw themselves reflected in his work.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Pages