For immediate release
June 30, 2005
Contact:
Chad Campbell, NPR:
ccampbell@npr.org | 202.513.2404

Phyllis Allen of Fort Worth, TX to be Broadcast Essayist On July 11 Edition of This I Believe, NPR Series Exploring Personal Values

Essay Capturing How Self-Identity as African-American Woman Has Changed Through Decades of Life Chosen from 3700 Entries

WASHINGTON - This I Believe, the NPR® (National Public Radio) weekly series of personal essays about core values and beliefs - a contemporary version of Edward R. Murrow's landmark 1950s project - will feature the thoughts and words of Phyllis Allen of Fort Worth, Texas on the July 11 edition of All Things Considered®.

Allen, whose essay was chosen from among 3700 submitted since the series launched three months ago, writes about how identifying herself as an African-American woman from the 1950s through the 21st century changed her values through the decades. Allen details her life journey - from "…this is what I believed: my place was in the balcony of the downtown theater, the back of the bus and the back steps of the White Dove Barbecue Emporium" to how, as she turned 50, "…along with the wrinkles, softened muscles and weak eyesight came the confidence that allows me to stick to a very small list of beliefs and leave the identity issues to other folks."

Allen joins an impressive list of essayists who have contributed to the series since it made its premiere April 4; participants have included former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris, authors John Updike and Isabel Allende, psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, and physicist Brian Greene. This I Believe also features the work of NPR listeners from around the country who have responded with essays on a variety of subjects.

According to Jay Allison, who hosts the segment, "What's so fascinating about the submissions has been their variety, from eloquent declarations about the great principles that guide lives, to simple statements of belief in something more humble. Phyllis' candid and enthusiastic essay stood out. It tells about how we separate our own beliefs from what we're expected to believe."

Allen, a sales representative, began writing her This I Believe essay since she wanted the challenge of exploring and verbalizing her own values. She notes that she approached the project with the basic concept that "I was thinking about how I have changed several times over the course of my life, with things that I used to think were important now mattering little or not at all to me. Then I realized that for a long time, I had believed what I was told by people who I thought mattered." Allen listens to NPR programming on KERA-FM/90.1 in Dallas.

NPR and its member stations have always had a strong connection to its listeners, and with This I Believe, listeners have the opportunity for their personal beliefs to be heard on over 600 public radio stations across the country, reaching over two million people. Essays from listeners will comprise at least half of the pieces broadcast.

During its original run in the 1950s, Murrow's This I Believe launched a national dialogue about core values and beliefs. The contemporary version covers a broad spectrum of topics such as compassion, faith, love, the power of change, the importance of knowledge, the value of family and tolerance. The essays range from poignant to humorous, and provide unique insight what Americans believe in the 21st century. This I Believe essay writing has already been incorporated into the activities of schools, community groups, places of worship and even birthday celebrations. This I Believe essays have been read or played at weddings and funerals. Additionally, blogs have been launched based on the concept by groups as diverse as college students, senior citizens and people affiliated with various religious and political associations. The segments air every Monday, alternating between NPR's signature newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered®.

To date, all of the aired This I Believe essays have ranked among the top e-mailed stories on www.npr.org. To listen to past essays or to submit an essay, please visit www.npr.org/thisibelieve.

NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 26 million Americans each week in partnership with more than 780 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, npr.org offers hourly newscasts, special features and eight years of archived audio and information.