StoryCorps seeks to preserve 20th Century African-American life

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If you are a regular listener of National Public Radio, then you are probably familiar with the StoryCorps project. For years now, microphones have been set up in public and mobile studios to record the stories of average Americans.

There is no formality — the guests, usually two people, are just told when the recording starts and that they have 40 minutes to talk about anything they want. For most people the narratives are about special moments in their lives or perhaps a brush with history.

The latest project in this series is called the Griot Initiative. A Griot is the West African name given to someone who is a community poet or storyteller. For StoryCorps, the Griot initiative is recording African-American voices and experiences, eventually to become an oral history of black life in the 20th century.

Both StoryCorps and NPR agreed to premiere Project Griot a bit earlier than originally planned. It will air beginning on Friday's "Morning Edition" program in light of recent events which have prompted Americans to focus on race.

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