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Into America

Into America

Author: MSNBC, Trymaine Lee

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Into America is a show about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake.
107 Episodes
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In the final installment of Harlem on My Mind, Trymaine Lee learns about the legacy of playwright Abram Hill, who used his work to center Black characters, Black audiences, and Black communities unapologetically.Abram Hill co-founded the American Negro Theater in 1940, operating a small 150-seat theater from the basement of Harlem’s Schomburg Center. The American Negro Theater, also known as the ANT, would become a launch pad for stars like Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, even as Hill’s name was largely lost to history.Trymaine tours the Schomburg Center with chief of staff Kevin Matthews, and sits down with Dr. Koritha Mitchell, an associate English professor at Ohio State University, to better understand Abram Hill and the ANT’s rise and fall.And we learn about the legacy Hill leaves behind. In the 1960s, the New Heritage Theater Group grew from the foundation of the ANT and has been going strong since. Voza Rivers is the group’s executive producer. Trymaine talks with him, as well as actor Anthony Goss, who appeared in a 2017 re-production of Hill’s hit play On Strivers’ Row. Rivers and Goss, two men forty years apart, describe how Hill’s commitment to community continues to resonate across generations.We also hear from Abram Hill, in his own words, thanks to audio recordings from Schomburg Center archives and the Hatch Billops Estate, as well as the Works Progress Administration Oral History collection at George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center.For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.comFurther Listening:Harlem on My Mind: Jacob LawrenceHarlem on My Mind: Arturo SchomburgHarlem on My Mind: Jessie Redmon Fauset 
In Part 3 of Into America’s Black History Month series, Harlem on My Mind, Trymaine Lee spotlights the influence of Jessie Redmon Fauset. Langston Hughes called her one of the midwives of the Harlem Renaissance, but few today remember her name.As literary editor for NAACP’s The Crisis magazine, Fauset fostered the careers of many notable writers of the time: poets Countee Cullen and Gwendolyn Bennet, novelist Nella Larsen, writer Claude McCay. Fauset was the first person to publish Langston Hughes, when The Crisis printed the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Fauset was also a writer, penning essays and poems. She went on to write four novels, including There is Confusion (1924). Her focus on bourgeois characters and women’s ambition shaped the conversation about Black identity in Harlem at the time.Dr. Julia S. Charles, professor of English at Auburn University, sheds light on the full scope of Fauset’s work, including her complicated relationship with Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and other notable Black thinkers. Author Morgan Jerkins describes how Fauset’s legacy has inspired her own work as a writer, editor, and resident of today’s Harlem.Special thanks to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com Further Reading and Listening:Harlem on My Mind: Jacob LawrenceHarlem on My Mind: Arturo SchomburgThe Forgotten Work of Jessie Redmon Fauset
Into America continues its Black History Month series, Harlem on My Mind, following four figures from Harlem who defined Blackness for themselves and what it means to be Black in America today. The series begins when Trymaine Lee acquires a signed print by Jacob Lawrence titled “Schomburg Library.”The Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture is based in Harlem, but its roots are on the island of Puerto Rico with a little Afro Puerto Rican boy named Arturo Schomburg. Determined to collect a record of Black history that could tell us who we are and where we’ve been, Arturo Schomburg amassed a personal collection of 10,000 Black books, artwork and documents. That collection eventually became the Schomburg Center we know today, which is part of the New York Public Library system. Trymaine Lee speaks with Vanessa Valdés, author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Shola Lynch, curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of the Schomburg Center, and Arturo Schomburg’s grandson, Dean Schomburg to better understand who Arturo was and the impact of his legacy on Black identity and Black culture.For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.comFurther Reading and Listening:Harlem on My Mind: Jacob LawrenceVideo of Arturo Schomburg in the Schomburg’s original reading room, courtesy of the Schomburg Center’s YouTube pageDiasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg by Vanessa Valdés
This Black History Month, Into America launches Harlem on My Mind, a series that follows four figures from Harlem who defined Blackness for themselves and what it means to be Black in America today.The story begins in December, when host Trymaine Lee acquires something he coveted for years: a numbered print titled Schomburg Library by American icon Jacob Lawrence. The print came with a handwritten dedication to a man named Abram Hill. Who was Abram Hill? How did he know Jacob Lawrence? Did their paths cross at the famed Schomburg Library?What follows is a journey of discovery, through conversations with friends, historians and experts, to understand the interconnected lives of Black creators in and around the Harlem Renaissance. And it starts with Jacob Lawrence, a child of the Great Migration who was nurtured by the great artists and ideas of the period. Two women who knew Lawrence well, art historian Dr. Leslie King-Hammond and artist Barbara Earl Thomas, reflect on his life, death and contributions to Black culture.Special thanks to the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com Further Reading and Listening:“The World of Jacob Lawrence:” Keynote Address by Dr. Leslie King-HammondA Seattle artist cuts through the chaos of the pandemicAn Interview with Jacob Lawrence
Reporting on Race

Reporting on Race

2021-01-2831:481

This week, President Biden outlined his commitment to addressing racial equity and righting historical wrongs. But Black journalists have been trying to sound the alarm on the consequences of racism and extremism for years. In predominantly white newsrooms, their calls were often met with skepticism and dismissiveness, and as a result, we’ve all paid the price. Journalist Farai Chideya has covered every presidential election since 1996. Her resume includes stints at CNN, ABC News, and FiveThirtyEight. She knows first-hand what it’s like to try to tell stories of racial animus, only to be silenced by white gatekeepers. In addition to being a journalist, Farai is also a media analyst. As a fellow with Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, she studied the lack of diversity in American newsrooms.Farai recently started her own newsroom, serving as creator and host of Our Body Politic, a politics podcast about women of color. It’s produced in collaboration with public radio stations KCRW, KPCC, and KQED. She joins Trymaine Lee to discuss the ways in which institutionalized bias in mainstream media led to inadequate coverage of race under Trump, and the lessons journalists need to keep in mind during the Biden administration.  Further Reading and Listening:Listen to Farai Chideya’s podcast Our Body PoliticBiden signs executive actions on racial equityInto America: Into Please Stop Talking to Me About Race
The violent insurrection against our nation’s Capitol building this month pulled an ugly truth to the surface, one that’s been hiding in plain sight for decades. White supremacist extremism is widespread, deep-rooted and a major threat to our security. In his inaugural address on Wednesday, President Joe Biden named white supremacy as a danger to our unity and vowed to defeat it. But law enforcement and government agencies have refused to acknowledge the full scope of the problem, especially when it appears within their own ranks. Will the attack earlier this month motivate the new administration to take this threat more seriously? Trymaine Lee sits down with Erroll Southers, a former federal agent and an expert in homegrown extremism at the University of Southern California. Southers lays out how white supremacist extremism was fostered over decades in this country, and the steps President Biden can take to begin to address the crisis.  Further Reading: Biden sworn in as president, calls on Americans to 'end this uncivil war' of political divisionThe Trump-fueled riot shocked America. To some, it was a long time coming.
The Undecided Election

The Undecided Election

2021-01-1532:072

Americans were told for months that results from the 2020 presidential election could take days, even weeks, to be confirmed. But there was little clarity on how it would all play out. For the first time in seven months, host Trymaine Lee hit the road for North Carolina, to track the Black vote in this crucial swing state. He found enthusiasm on a college campus, wary determination outside of polling places, and democracy in action as election workers gathered results in the bowels of an old courtroom. But as Election Day came and went without a clear winner, North Carolinians were left in limbo, waiting to find out who their state voted for. And all of America was left wondering which way our country is headed. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Watching: NBC News Decision Desk Live Blog Black men drifted from Democrats toward Trump in record numbers, polls show North Carolina Election Results 2020
American Coup

American Coup

2021-01-1532:141

The storming of the Capitol building by white extremists loyal to Donald Trump on January 6th, was violent, deadly and shameful.    But it wasn’t unprecedented. The attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election follows a long tradition in America of white violence, aimed at undoing Democracy.   At nearly every turn, where this country bent toward freedom, there was a violent backlash. And there is perhaps no clearer example than the story of the only successful coup in U.S. history.  In 1898, white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina carried out a riot and insurrection, targeting Black lawmakers and residents.  Inez Campbell Eason’s family survived the coup, but Black lawmakers were ousted, dozens of Black residents were killed, and she tells Trymaine Lee that the impact on the city is still felt. Dr. Sharlene Sinegal-Decuir, African American History professor at Xavier University in New Orleans, explains the long history of white violence in response to progress. In order to prevent insurrections like the one last week in Washington, D.C., she says we must begin to understand our past. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.  Further Reading:White rioters at the Capitol got police respect. Black protestors got rubber bullets.Law enforcement and the military probing whether members took part in Capitol riotDemocrats grapple with how to impeach Trump without hindering Biden's agenda
A Fresh New Look

A Fresh New Look

2021-01-1502:46

This moment calls for us to be honest and truthful about who we are as Americans, who we’ve been and who we hope to become. And there’s no way to do that without examining the role, range and power of Blackness in America. Trymaine Lee introduces a new look that speaks to the hopes, anxieties and aspirations of Black America. 
On the afternoon of January 6th, the nation was gripped by the images of Trump supporters charging the Capitol building as Congress gathered to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. These scenes brought to bear what so many democracy-loving people across this country have long feared, that Trump’s final days as President would end violently.  But hours earlier, attention was on the Georgia Senate races, where Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock won his runoff election against Republican Kelly Loeffler. Rev. Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., will become the first Black senator from the state of Georgia. He’ll be the second Black senator from the South since Reconstruction.  Jaime Harrison is a Warnock supporter. Harrison ran for Senate this year in South Carolina. He lost his race, but turned his attention to his political action committee, Dirt Road PAC, putting money behind Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who ran for and won Georgia’s other Senate seat. These dual victories mean Democrats take control of the US Senate this year.  Jaime Harrison joins Trymaine Lee to reflect on the significance of Warnock’s win and the path forward for Democrats. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Listening: 1 shot dead, Congress evacuated, National Guard activated after pro-Trump rioters storm CapitolLoeffler's projected defeat in Georgia Senate election highlights failed Republican strategyJon Ossoff defeats David Perdue in Georgia, handing control of the Senate to Democrats, NBC News projectsInto the Fight for Lindsey Graham's Seat
BONUS: Not the Last

BONUS: Not the Last

2021-01-1541:522

In a bonus for Into America listeners, Trymaine Lee joins Joy Reid, host of the podcast Kamala: Next In Line in a roundtable discussion.Kamala Harris has been elected the 49th Vice President of the United States. So what comes next? Joy speaks with Pulitzer Prize winner, opinion writer for The Washington Post and an MSNBC contributor, Jonathan Capehart, editor at large at the 19th, and MSNBC contributor Errin Haynes and Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winner, MSNBC correspondent and host of Into America, Trymaine Lee. Listen and subscribe to the series: https://link.chtbl.com/description-kamala
Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough

2020-12-3126:293

As an outspoken sports journalist, Jemele Hill has been told to “stick to sports” in her coverage. The same has been said to professional athletes for decades. But things changed in 2020, when the pandemic and racial justice movements collided. Black athletes decided the fight was worth risking it all for. And many team owners and the leagues realized it was good for business to support their players. Trymaine Lee looks back on the year of sports and activism with Jemele Hill, contributing writer for The Atlantic and host of the podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered. Jemele traces the roots of why Black athletes stayed silent in the past and why change is more likely to stick in the NBA than the NFL. Plus, why she thinks the solution may be to just burn the whole system down. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Listening: Into the WNBA Bubble Into Protest and the NFL Into a Game Changer
Black Toys R Us

Black Toys R Us

2020-12-2431:074

From children’s books, to cartoons, to the worlds of fantasy and make believe, it can sometimes seem as if Black characters are on the side-lines, or don’t exist at all. Especially around the holidays, Black parents get creative to find toys for their kids that reflect just how beautiful and special they are. More than three decades ago, Yla Eason took matters into her own hands when her Black son said that he couldn’t be a superhero because he’s not white. Trymaine Lee talks to Yla, about why she created Sun-Man, one of the first Black superhero toys in America, and the challenges she encountered along the way. And we get some words of wisdom from Trymaine’s 8-year-old daughter, Nola, on why representation in toys matters. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Listening: Pioneering Black doll Baby Nancy enters Toy Hall of Fame Serena Williams on the Qai Qai doll and wanting to 'share joy' Into an American Uprising: Talking to Kids About Racism
The holidays should be the busiest time of the year, but small businesses everywhere have been crushed by the pandemic and its restrictions. The picture is especially grim for Black-owned small businesses, which closed at twice the rate of white-owned small businesses this spring. But in the city of Milwaukee, there’s a bright spot. A collective of mostly Black-owned businesses is not only surviving, it's thriving. For entrepreneurs JoAnne and Maanaan Sabir, envisioning a place where that could be possible began in 2016, following the police shooting of a young Black man that set off days of protests. Two years later, the Sabirs opened the Sherman Phoenix, a community healing space and hub of more than two dozen small businesses. Business owners within the Sherman Phoenix have been able to stave off closures and financial hardship tied to COVID-19. Trymaine Lee talks to Adija Smith, a Phoenix tenant about her journey from home baker to storefront owner, and how she’s relied on and supported her fellow Black business owners within the collective. And Trymaine sits down with JoAnne and Maanaan to talk about how the Sherman Phoenix could provide a model for other Black community spaces, especially during tough times. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Listening: Black-Owned Businesses Nearly Twice as Likely to Close for Good Amid Pandemic: NY Fed What Hasn’t Changed for Black Small Business Owners Since George Floyd Into the Survival of Main Street
Critical Condition

Critical Condition

2020-12-1032:032

In Chicago, one of the most segregated American cities, race and proximity to quality healthcare are inextricably linked, and the divide has been exacerbated COVID19 continues to infect and kill Black people disproportionately. At the same time, Black Chicagoans are seeing hospitals in their communities closing at an alarming rate. Since 2018, three hospitals have closed on the South and West sides. And now a fourth, Mercy Hospital, the oldest in the city, is slated to close next year. Host Trymaine Lee talks to activist Jitu Brown, who says Mercy has a duty to remain open and continue to serve the mostly Black surrounding neighborhoods. Etta Davis, a patient at Mercy, says the hospital’s plan to open a new outpatient clinic makes her worried about what could happen in an emergency. But Dr. Thomas Britt of the Health Policy Institute of Chicago, says Mercy, which loses $4 million a month, is in too much debt and serves too many underinsured patients to continue to under its current model. He says elected officials and healthcare providers need to think outside the box to better serve communities. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading: Mercy Hospital Announces Closure After Operating for Nearly 170 Years
"The Dead Are Arising"

"The Dead Are Arising"

2020-12-0330:403

Malcolm X is a towering cultural figure. Movies have been made about him, books have been written, and he’s been mythologized since his assassination in 1965. But an encounter at a cocktail party in Detroit led journalist Les Payne to realize how much more there was to understand about the man. Les Payne spent the last three decades of his life learning everything he could about Malcolm X. The result is The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, a new book that sheds light on the people, places, and experiences that shaped Malcolm X into the man he’d become. Late last month, The Dead Are Arising won a 2020 National Book Award for nonfiction. It’s praise that Les Payne would not live to hear. Payne died in 2018 while still working to put the final touches on his book. So his daughter, Tamara Payne, who had been a researcher with him from the start of the project, finished the work. On this episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee sits down with Tamara and her mother, Violet Payne, to talk about Les Payne, their family’s love for Malcolm X, and the legacies of these two men.For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading: 'Interior Chinatown' novel, Malcolm X bio win National Book Awards 55 years later, 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' still inspires Malcolm X assassination case may be reopened after Netflix documentary
Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul

2020-11-2629:484

Like the Blues and Jazz, the Black American culinary tradition is rooted in a specific kind of American experience. From one generation to the next, Black families have turned to traditional dishes to celebrate the holidays, to commiserate and even to mourn. This holiday season, with COVID19 and hunger rising in tandem, too many Black families will be mourning rather than celebrating. Some will be relying on the kindness of strangers to fill their stomachs and their spirits, while others will turn to comfort foods that have gotten us through the worst of times. In the latest episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee talks to culinary historian and author Michael Twitty about the forces that influenced Black American cooking and why food is a source of Black joy. Trymaine also talks to Cindy Ayers Elliott of Foot Print Farms in Jackson, Mississippi, about her mission: using traditional foodways to fill systemic gaps, feed the hungry and keep people healthy this Thanksgiving. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading: USDA issued billions in subsidies this year. Black farmers are still waiting for their share. This is what hunger looks like in COVID-19 America Black Farmers Have Been Robbed of Land. A New Bill Would Give Them a “Quantum Leap” Toward Justice.
Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect. On the latest episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee explores the little-known history of a place that shaped her identity - the Rainbow Sign. The Rainbow Sign was a Black cultural center in Berkeley, California that opened its doors in 1971 and welcomed the likes of James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Shirley Chisholm, and a young Black and Indian girl from Oakland named Kamala. In her memoir, Harris writes, “Kids like me, who spent time at Rainbow Sign were exposed to dozens of extraordinary men and women who showed us what we could become.” Odette Pollar, whose mother Mary Ann Pollar who founded Rainbow Sign in 1971, tells Trymaine what the center was like during its brief but influential lifespan. And Dezie Woods-Jones, founder and President of Black Women Organized for Political Action, explains how the social and political climate in the Bay Area at the time gave rise to Rainbow Sign, and how the center impacted Harris’ life. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Listening:Kamala: Next In Line Digital archive of Rainbow Sign Where Kamala Harris’ Political Imagination Was Formed (Slate)
I Have Your Back

I Have Your Back

2020-11-1229:275

When Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect, he singled out the Black community for helping him throughout his campaign, and he made a promise. "You’ve always had my back,” he said, pounding on the lectern. “And I’ll have yours.” Host Trymaine Lee takes a closer look at this line from Joe Biden’s speech, first by digging into how Black voters helped push Biden to victory. Brittany Smalls, statewide coordinator in Pennsylvania for Black Voters Matter talks about the work it took on the ground to get Black Americans to the polls. And Eddie Glaude, Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University and MSNBC analyst, unpacks Biden’s promise have the Black community’s back and how voters can keep him accountable. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading: How Black voters in key cities helped deliver the election for Joe Biden Credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia, Stacey Abrams looks to January Clinching victory, President-elect Biden declares 'time to heal in America'
In order to win the election in less than a week, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party need to do what Barack Obama did 12 years ago: expand the electorate. In 2008, 12 percent voters were people who hadn’t previously been participating, and 19 percent of all Black voters were new to the polls. But in 2016, many of them, including Black men, stayed home. Now, a grassroots effort is building to re-engage these men. Into America heads to the swing state of Florida, where local Black elected officials are leading the effort to reach out to Black men. Trymaine Lee talks with a Miami native, Maurice Hanks, about his ups and downs with political participation over the years. And we hear from Florida State Senator Randolph Bracy, who is using unconventional methods to prove to Black men that their votes have power. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica. Further Reading and Viewing:'A stronghold of the Democratic Party': How older Black voters could propel Biden to victory Watch: Obama takes hard swings at Trump while campaigning in Florida
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Comments (21)

John Massari

I get your point but, they're a lot of black heroes, John Stewart, Falcon, Black Panther, Blade, Cyborg, Black Lightning, Misty Knight, Luke Cage, Storm and those are only but a few. Black Panther and Falcon have both been around since the 60's. they were definitely Falcon action figures. However, I'm not going pretend that black action figures aren't under presented, but part of the issue is demand.

Dec 28th
Reply

gaby alseen

Why is it ok for a white kid to have dolls from different races? but Nola can't have a Jojo Siwa doll? As a Canadian this is so stupid and ehem. ...racist. I was really enjoying this podcast until this episode.

Dec 25th
Reply

Béné

Nola is so so smart, I'm sure she will do great things! She could have her own podcast :)

Dec 24th
Reply

Jen Jen

This is a GREAT podcast!

Dec 20th
Reply

bob

this week on "Everything is Racist!"...

Sep 24th
Reply (1)

bob

race bating jerkoff

Sep 10th
Reply

Tay Off The Top

Thanks!! #BidenHarris2020

Aug 12th
Reply

Sofa King

This woman can suck it for hating Bernie.

Jun 7th
Reply

Vicki Camacho

Lol!! ❤❤❤❤

Jun 7th
Reply

Vicki Camacho

You had me until you mentioned AL Sharpton. I must say the buildup was excellent until you mention him.

May 14th
Reply

Emmett Stokes

This is a well laid out and informative piece of reporting that laden with evidence of the demographic with ALL of the experience of this parcel of the fourth amendment ... unreasonable search and seizure. Although Blomberg is Billoinnaire, philanthropist and innovator, his innate decision with all the law enforcement officials reeks of undertone of racism and implicit biases.

Apr 29th
Reply

Fiona Fleming

really enjoying this

Mar 29th
Reply

Vicki Camacho

Louisiana 8 electrol college votes and Georgia has 16. All 16 of Georgia's electrol college went to Republicans.

Mar 21st
Reply

Susan Shinagawa

I, too, have been supporting Jaime and his campaign from California. The late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a long time friend of Lindsay Graham, would be rolling over in his grave at how Lindsay has rolled his honor and principles over to the immature, hateful, narcissistic, self-serving Donald Trump. It's time Georgians send Graham home. I'm doing what I can to help Jaime Harrison become the new Junior Senator from the great state of Georgia. I encourage others to do so, too.

Mar 19th
Reply (1)

Julie Nance

Donating to him!!! Lindsay Graham has got to go. I'm not in South Carolina, but the entire country has to suffer from Graham being in the Senate and being a lap dog for Trump. Supporting Jamie from Utah.

Mar 10th
Reply (2)

Ann Wolterbeek Hawkins

well done, good info.

Feb 29th
Reply (1)
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