American Icons: The Autobiography of Malcom X — When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his book nearly died with him. Today it stands as a milestone in America’s struggle with race.
Marian Anderson — The Lady from Philadelphia — An acclaimed African-American contralto, Marian Anderson was barred from singing in Constitution Hall in 1939. She sang at the Lincoln Memorial instead. The concert was broadcast around the country — and also heard by a young Martin Luther King, Jr.
The narrative of African Americans “passing” into white culture has long persisted. These stories are often tragic and filled with shame, secrecy, and the abandonment of home and family. In his new book, “The Invisible Line,” Daniel Sharfstein looks at three families that were once identified as black and are now viewed as white. These stories are ones of pride as white families reconnect with their African-American roots.
Among them is the story of Isabelle Whittemore. She is the great granddaughter of a legendary African American military figure and abolitionist named O.S.B. Wall. She had no idea until recently that she was part African American. Daniel joins us from Tennessee and Isabelle joins us from Mississippi.
Bessie Coleman: Daredevil Aviatrix — Bessie Coleman knew that becoming a pilot was her dream. Because she was a black woman, no American flight schools would admit her. Despite the obstacles, Bessie managed to become the first African-American woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license.