Michele Norris
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Michele Norris

Host and Special Correspondent

Michele Norris is one of the most respected voices in American journalism. As NPR host and special correspondent, Norris produces in-depth profiles, interviews and series, and guest hosts NPR News programs.

Norris also leads the "The Race Card Project," an initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America that she created after the publication of her 2010 family memoir, The Grace of Silence. In the book she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America's complicated racial history.

Most recently, Norris was a host on NPR's All Things Considered, where she informed, engaged and enlightened listeners with thoughtful interviews and in-depth reporting. An award-winning journalist, Norris has interviewed world leaders, Nobel laureates, Oscar winners, American presidents, military leaders, influential newsmakers and even astronauts traveling in outer space. She is known for her approachable interviewing style that is both relaxed and rigorous.

From a two-part roundtable discussion with a group of parents about the challenges they faced with childcare to a series looking into what it means to be all-American in this country's increasing multiculturalism, Norris reports on the issues that affect people, from working parents to career politicians, in small communities and large cities all across the country. Norris teamed up with NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep for a series of conversations with voters in York, PA, about race and its role in the 2008 presidential election.

In addition to this deep reporting, Norris regularly interviews newsmakers, from politicians to prominent individuals such as Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC), Paul Ryan (R-WI) and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before joining NPR in 2002, Norris spent almost ten years as a reporter for ABC News in the Washington Bureau. She has also worked as a staff writer for The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Norris has received numerous awards for her work. In 2009, she was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists. The NABJ recognized Norris for her body of work, in addition to her coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign — when she co-hosted NPR's Democratic presidential candidates debate, covered both conventions, anchored multi-hour election and inauguration live broadcasts and moderated a series of candid conversations with voters on the intersection of race and politics. That series earned Norris and Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep an Alfred I. duPont -Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcasting.

Norris was honored with NABJ's 2006 Salute to Excellence Award, for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina; the University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award; and the 1990 Livingston Award for a series about a six-year-old who lived in a crack house. That series was reprinted in the book, Ourselves Among Others, along with essays by Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Annie Dillard and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In 2009, Norris was named one of Essence magazine's 25 Most Influential Black Americans and elected to Ebony magazine's Power 150 List. She was honored with Ebony's 8th Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications Award in 2007.

Norris earned both an Emmy Award and Peabody Award for her contribution to ABC News' coverage of 9/11. She is on the judging committee for both the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Livingston Awards. Norris is a frequent guest on NBC's Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show.

In 2010, Norris' book The Grace of Silence: A Memoir was published. In the book she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America's complicated racial history.

She attended the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in electrical engineering and graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she studied journalism.

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Actors John Kerr and France Nuyen in a scene from the 1958 film South Pacific. The interracial romance between the onstage pair unsettled some audiences. 20th Century Fox/Getty Images hide caption

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Clarence B. Jones, legal adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., takes notes behind King at a press conference regarding in Birmingham, Ala., in February 1963. Ernst Haas/Getty Images hide caption

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Clarence B. Jones this month in Palo Alto, Calif. As Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorney and adviser, Jones contributed to many of King's speeches, including his famous speech at the March on Washington in 1963. Norbert von der Groeben/Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Joseph Burden (third row, third from right) with his graduating class at Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department training academy in 1960. Every officer on the force was required to work the day of the March on Washington. Courtesy of Joseph Burden hide caption

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Robert Avery has been a councilman in his hometown of Gadsden, Ala., for almost three decades. As a teen, he and two friends hitchhiked to the nation's capital, where they made signs for the March on Washington. Erica Yoon/NPR hide caption

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A newspaper clipping from The Cincinnati Herald on Sept. 14, 1963, included a picture of Jack Hansan and other members of the Cincinnati delegation. Courtesy of Jack Hansan hide caption

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The Freedom Singers make several appearances in our mix of songs inspired by the civil rights movement — a collection that ranges from 1963 to the present day. Joe Alper hide caption

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Alabama Gov. George Wallace (right) blocks the door of the the Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on June 11, 1963. Wallace, who had vowed to prevent integration of the campus, gave way to federal troops. AP hide caption

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Elysha O'Brien and her husband, Michael, with their sons. Elysha never learned Spanish but is determined that her children will. Courtesy of the O'Brien family hide caption

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