Family and Childhood

A Black American Son’s Survival Lessons

A frantic call from Sheila Arnold’s son during his freshmen year in college turns into a moment to remember all that she had to teach him about growing up black, and what he had learned about crossing bridges in spite of people’s perceptions.

A Child’s Eye View

In South Carolina during Jim Crow, Cynthia Changaris is baffled by why black people get to ride in the “best part” of the bus with the great view out the rear window or why her playmate dies because he couldn’t get to a “colored hospital” in time.

A Real Friend

A funny and touching story about two girls who live in a socially divided village in the heart of the industrial English Midlands. On one unusual day, they transcend the barrier that separates them the joy of  that brief friendship is long remembered.

A Twist of Fate: My Jewish Father in World War II

Heather tells of the odd twist of fate that saved her father’s life when he, along with all the other Jewish teenagers in his neighborhood, gave up their personal life plans and enlisted in the U.S. army to go fight Hitler in 1942.

A Yiddish King Lear

Judith remembers that her grandfather, Oscar Markowitz, was an actor in the Yiddish Theatre at the turn of the 20th Century. A story about hard choices, hopes, dreams, racial persecution, and love!

An African Native American Story

Many Africans and First Nations people bonded together during and after slavery in the Americas and in the Caribbean for protection, acceptance, friendship and love. As a result, many African descendants also share Native American ancestries.

Aunt Helen

A Jewish girl and her friend sneak away from the forced walk of the Nazis. They hide in a haystack and a farmer helps them until the drums toll. In the face of this innocence, what motivates the Nazi soldier? What compels the farmer to help?

Be Human- Find the George Within You!

Sadika witnessed the Lebanese civil war. The atrocities and the horrors can change a human being into a monster. Is there any hope for tolerance, love and forgiveness after such an experience? “Uncle George” made the difference.

Beach Drowning and Race Riot

In researching housing history in segregated Chicago, Sue learns about the 1919 Chicago race riot. She wonders why she has not heard the story before now.

Between Worlds

At school Olga was taught not to speak Spanish or risk punishment. At the same time, her Japanese-American friends were able to learn the Japanese language and study its culture. How she could straddle multiple worlds too?

Bittersweet: Mom’s Story

Nancy dives into why her relationship with her mother has been one of ambivalence. Her journey is colored by the differences between Chinese and Western values and behaviors making it even more difficult to understand.

Castro Dolls and Familia

Leeny shares stories of her colorful, beloved family. Meet her charming Cuban Dad and his zany wife, Lorraine. Hear what happened when three-year-old Leeny receives an unusual souvenir from Cuba.

Changing Neighborhoods

Sue grew up hearing about “them” – the people who would come and take her and her neighbors’ homes in their all-white neighborhood. When her family watched the Friday night fights, it was made clear who was “the other” and who was “us.”

City Girls: North Side vs. South Side

In high school, Susan O’Halloran spent her first overnight away from her Chicago home and met people from different ethnic and racial groups. She learns that there is more to people and discovers layers of herself she had long been ignoring.

Close Encounters

Small town meets big city. Boundaries are crossed and cultures collide when a Midwest family encounters the boys from New York City. Will they find common ground or confrontation?

Construction

Storyteller Jim May relates his days working his way through school on a union construction crew; as well as the unions roll in softening the effects of classism and racism.

Cost of Racism

As Motoko raises her Japanese son in the U.S., she is reminded of prejudice against Koreans in her own country, and discovers the importance of the language we use to create the world we live in.

Davy Crockett

As a five-year-old, Sue met a boy her age who was different from her. Sue’s mother subtly lets Sue know that she is not to be friends with the boy.

Dr. King Came to Town

It was August 12th, 1966 and Dr. Martin Luther King was marching through Susan O’Halloran’s south Chicago neighborhood. At the same time, the KKK heard the news and arrived in the same neighborhood, splitting it into two.

Evacuation

What if the U.S. went to war with your country of origin? Anne Shimojima tells of the difficult days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when her Japanese-American family were forced to evacuate their home.

Finding Josephus

When Lyn Ford was young, “Finding Josephus” was a “legend” told by her father. But curiosity and research brought forth its reality, and a connection both to the lesser-known history of the Underground Railroad and the heart of her father’s story.

Fond Memories and The Jane Addams Project

This story is a piece of history from the 1950’s. It tells of affordable housing and living in a particular neighborhood while providing some insight into the different ethnic groups that make up some of our communities.

From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me

This is a personal journey tale from Lyn’s childhood living next door to a Holocaust survivor and, then, her adolescent small but mature steps into the greater Civil Rights Movement.

Grandma’s Story

After her Grandmother passes, Sue searches for her Grandmother’s story. Her exploration takes her into Irish American history and, eventually, to Ireland to find her Grandmother’s childhood home.

Grandpa’s Story

An American family gathers for a reunion with laughter, memories, and good ol’ corn beef and cabbage. Suddenly, the father kneels before his family and sobs apologetically, “Your country has betrayed you.”

Hey, I’m Black Too! So, Where Do I Fit In?

Mama Edie’s new friend, Renee, grew up in a predominately white community during the Civil Rights years. When Renee attends college she learns the pain of being treated as an outsider by some of the other Africian American students.

How Do You Say Blueberry in Spanish

Antonio explores the challenges and joys of trying to raise a bilingual child. As anxious new parents, Antonio and his wife ask, “Are two languages better than one?” and find humor along the way.

I Deserve To Be Here

Emily Hooper Lansana reminices about how her life would be if she believed what others told her. In this story you will learn what racial justice is allowing everyone the opportunity to same opportunities to succeed.

I Wanted To Be an Indian

Stories about our ancestors help us understand who we are. Encountering troubling revelations about her forebears and their Indian neighbors in colonial New England, Jo Radner asks what it means to tell – and live with – her whole, complex history.

Immigrant Story

This story reveals how a group of immigrants rallied with resilience and ingenuity so that the 7th generation of Chinese Americans thrives today.

In the Name of God Who Do You Seek

As part of a service project, Mary Gay and her best friend are to start a Girl Scout troop at a notorious reform school in New Orleans. As an adult, Mary Gay wishes she could go back to the school and ask for more for the girls.

Incarceration

How would the government treat your family if it went to war with your ancestors’ country of origin? Anne Shimojima describes life in an incarceration camp for her Japanese-American family during World War II.

Jimmy Nessar

An unlikely friendship is formed in a small-town barbershop. The friendship is not one that can openly flourish due to racism in the town. The story illustrates how one stands firmly and humbly in the face of racism while always willing to give back.

Just Not Muslim Enough

Sometimes we forget about the diversity that exists within a faith and within a family. In this story, Arif is reminded of how he is different from some of the relatives in his Muslim family.

Learning at the Dinner Table

Bill’s mother and father came from families at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. One Thanksgiving dinner, Bill’s father stands up to in-laws making bigoted comments and Bill learns a valuable lesson about taking a stand.

Looking at My Yearbooks

Looking at high school yearbooks, Shanta reflects on the changes of her childhood neighborhood and as an adult, with a larger understanding of the times – blockbusting and other pressures – the sting of being “the other” remains.

Looking for Papito

As a Cuban and Irish American child, Antonio deals with being “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough”. By trial and error and with the support of his family, Antonio reclaims all of his ethnic heritage and his Spanish language.

Loss and Acceptance

Karin had been a practical Asian woman and everything had been happening exactly as she planned until tragedy struck. With the help of storytelling in a support group to writing her Japanese blog she was able to overcome grief.

Mama Said

Michael’s mother models the importance and love of reading, but, mostly importantly, the value of kindness. When Michael tours in Brazil, he discovers that his mother was teaching the students there as well.

Martin and Me – A Coming of Age Story

Growing up, Steven was involved in Boy Scouts and his church and as a teen he advocated for community development in his New Jersey neighborhood. But could he get involved in the rising black militancy of the late 1960s?

Mattie’s Story: From Darkness into the Light

Dreading spending the summer with her strong willed grandmother, a young Earliana learns the true strength in “black beauty”. She finds that no matter how different we may look, we all have the capacity to feel and be kind to one another.

Music to Dream of Cuba By

Antonio’s father listened to classical music that transported him back to his beloved Cuba. Antonio thinks of listening to music in the future with his son and the memories and scenes the music will evoke.

My Chinese Grandfather

Brenda’s grandfather collects, dries and sells seaweed along the coast of California. When she is older, she finds his ways strange and the work hard, but the two find unique ways of talking and enjoying each other’s company.

My Civil Rights Moment

After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Beth realized that the fight for civil rights was happening right in her own home.  When she discovered the prejudice of her family, she had a choice to make. Her family’s beliefs? Or her own?

My Japanese Parents’ Unromantic Marriage

Karin never dreamed about marriage growing up because of her Japanese parents’ unromantic arranged marriage. But when her father had a severe stroke, her mother stuggled every day for months to teach him the basics – reading, walking and talking.

My Long Hair

Motoko tells a story about her own experience of sexual harassment in Japan, how she was trapped into silence imposed by her culture, and how storytelling helped her break through the silence and heal herself.

Negotiating the Narrows

As a young child in the 1950s, Susan Klein, raised Methodist, was intrigued by the mysterious practices of her Roman Catholic friends and neighbors. Susan’s growing awareness of religious difference and how it might indicate value—someone is better, someone is worse—caused her to understand how some in her community might viewed her friendship with an African American girl.

Next Town

While traveling from California to Lousiana, Diane’s family stops at a restaurant. A “whites only” sign hangs near the door and Diane’s family, all black, must eat in the kitchen. She learns about prejudice and how to keep in high spirits that day.

On the Bus: Saved By an Angel

A woman tells Jon a story about how a stranger saved her from arrest and morse but leaves before she completes her story. As Jon reflects, he asks: are we prepared to help a stranger when they need us most?

Passing for WASP

Carol believes: “To build a bridge from one culture into another and make pluralism a cause for celebration, we have to have one foot firmly planted in who we are.” When exploring her Polish and Scottish roots, she wonders, am I living what I teach?

Plastic Glory

Linda’s grandmother covered everything with plastic. Everything … chairs, tables, lampshades, even the sofa and throw pillow. But who would suspect this would set off a painful memory of the Vietnam War for Linda’s father?

Racism on the Road and Into the Next Generation

Brenda performs a song in Japanese and is told to stop using “demonic language” and is called “a witch.” Unfortunately, bias and ignorance is also visited on the next generation when her son is mistaken for another Japanese American student.

Raising a Glass to My Teachers

Pam Faro grew up in very white central Wisconsin. Decades later, over a glass of wine with family, she learned that something she’d always done innocently was racially hurtful. How could a class taken way back in high school be of any help?

Remembering Lisa Derman

Jim May remembers holocaust survivor, Lisa Derman, who died suddenly of a heart attack while telling a the story that had defined her contributions to the fight against anti-Semitism, as well as against genocide the world over.

Roots to Rap

Rev. Jones gives a rousing illustration of how today’s rap music has evolved from the blues and earlier musical forms.

School Spirit

In the Cold War era, in a high school without a soul, Erica experienced brief inclusion in the best girl’s clique! Then, she was dropped and fell into hopeless disappointment and depressions. But with her father’s help and the inspiration of a House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) witness, she found her power and the school found its spirit.

Searching for My Appalachia: A Modern Jack Tale

In a chance encounter, Kevin Cordi meets someone others might classify as a “redneck.” Cordi begins a short conversation with this very pleasant man named Jack. Jack explains to Cordi about the nature of the term “redneck” and asks, “When did dirt and hard work become something bad?” In that moment, Cordi reconnects with and feels pride in his mountain heritage.

Seeing the Other

One day, 5-year old Arif learns how to play with a dreidel and learns about the differences between Christians and Jews.

Seriously… What Did You Call Me?!

While getting a passport Onawumi Jean discovered that her name is not on her birth certificate. Her aunt is able to clear up the mystery by disclosing a concession Onawumi’s mother made to get along and keep her job in the Jim Crow South.

Spring

Storyteller Jim Stowell tells how an immigrant woman is faced with trials and hardships, and how she established a sense of pride and dignity for herself and her family.

Storyteller Rap

Michael McCarty has a poem about the importance of reading, storytelling and what he learned from his mother.

Take Me To Your Leader

During the McCarthy witch-hunts (a period of anti-communism intensity), the Cold War and the Space Race, Yvonne Healty describes how we learned to “blend” ethnic identities.

Taming the Fire: A Black Heritage Search

One day an angry black girl stormed into history class and demanded to know why she had not heard about black inventors. Her favorite teacher, who was white, was faced with a decision and in making it an entire classroom of students was changed.

Tewas Go Home

Eldrena is confused when she sees a poster and students say the same thing. She asks her Tewa-Hopi grandmother what the words mean. In the process she hears a story that teaches her about integrity no matter how much time passes.

That Place Within Untarnished

A woman from Rwanda tells of a child who faces a difficult choice when he finds himself face to face with the man who murdered his parents. Is there a place untouched by war, murderous alternatives and biases?

The Book

Linda’s father had a little black book. He said it was written just for her and he said it was full of all the values she needed for a successful life. Linda loved it. She believed in it, but it took time to understand just what a gift it was.

The Brownlee’s Migration

Kucha’s grandfather had a marketable skill after the Civil War. With plenty of hard work, life was good in Mississippi but one incident changed everything and suddenly the whole family became immigrants – packing up and moving out of Mississippi.

The Dirty Hands at Atwood’s Farm

One day during the 1950’s, a mixed-race couple came to visit the Atwood’s farm in rural Wisconsin. What happened to cause a young girl to question her mother’s response to the couple?

The Other Block

In the melting pot of the very poor, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, NY neighborhood, there lived Irish, Italians, Blacks, Polish, Jews and one Holocaust escapee kid — Erica. Kids only played with their own kind on their own block, but since Erica didn’t belong to any of those groups, she got to play with everybody. For Erica, that’s how unexpected friendships (and unexpected prejudices) formed.

The Promise: A Lesson in White Privilege

What happens when the warm connection between a black woman and a white woman is broken by insensitivity and unconscious white privilege? Are courage, honesty, forgiveness and hope enough to heal the separation?

The Spirit Survives (Part I — Gertrude Bonnin)

Dovie shares her knowledge of the Indian Boarding School experiement with her daughter and us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in the story that she never “wanted” to tell. But some stories need to be told…

The Spirit Survives (Part II — Grandpa)

The “Indian Experiment” in education, the government boarding schools, is unknown to many Americans, yet affects us all. Following forty years of study of these stories, Dovie knew she had to share what she’d learned that would be essential to her daughter, and all of us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in this story that she never “wanted” to tell. But there are some stories that need to be told…

The Story of My Teacher

Kiran reveals his experiences with racism as one of the few brown boys in his town contrasted with the kindness of strangers as well as the inspiration he received from his storyteller teacher, Mr. George.

Three Assassinations: Kennedy, King, Kennedy

Megan was confused when her 9th grade classmates reacted differently to the assassination of President Kennedy than her family did. Who was right? She learns to listen to her heart to find what was truth for her.

Three Sisters

In 1988 Jim and his wife lived with a family in Nicaragua. Jim learned about gratitude by watching how a young girl appreciated something as simple as a single piece of gum or a sheet of paper.

Tipping the Scales

When camp started, tension was high between the Chinese kids and Black and Latino kids in Robin’s group. But over the summer, the children began to let their defenses down and make new friends. That is, until Daniela returned.

Urban Renewal and Vanport, Oregon in the 1940s

During World War II, a young African-American couple relocates from Georgia to Vanport, Oregon in pursuit of the American dream. But the dream turns into a nightmare due to a major catastrophe and they have to decide if they should move back home.

What’s a Mexican?

Olga explores the various labels for her ethnic group: Mexican, American, Mexican American, Latina, Chicana and so on. In doing so, she finds out how she wants to define herself and her pride in her cultural life.

Where Are You From?

Bangladeshi-American Muslim storyteller, Arif Choudhury, shares stories about growing up as the only “brown-skinned boy” in the neighborhood and how 9-11 changed how others might perceive him and his family.

Why Am I A Jew?

Gerry Fierst says, “religion connects us to all who have gone before and all who will come after we are gone.” As he grows older he hear the words of his ancestors and passes the tradition of the blowing of the shofar on to his children.

Why Do You Want to go to College?

In high school, Olga was told by her counselor that her Mexican family was too poor for her to go to college.  Hear how she found a way around this negative advice.

You Never Know What the End Will Be

In 1972 Diane marries “outside her race” and her mother-in-law refuses to attend the wedding, among other things. What happens to the family’s relationship afterward is anyone’s guess. A story of hope and a reminder that love conquers many things.