StoryCorps Griot: Back to Her Roots

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Nzingha Motisla Masani (left) with her friend Noah Hairston. Courtesy StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy StoryCorps

In this week's StoryCorps Griot Initiative, Nzingha Motisla Masani remembers the day she took her African name in the 1970s, and shares how people have reacted to the name since then.

Masani received her African name at a naming ceremony at Eastern Michigan University in 1974. She participated, though unaware that she would receive her name that evening. She says she was nervous and shy upon being given the names Nzingha (after Queen Nzingha, the warrior) and Masani (meaning "gap between the teeth").

Due to family disapproval, she waited 21 years to legally change her name, and says that she needed to grow into herself and accept who she was before she could make the change.

The StoryCorps Griot Initiative travels the country collecting the recollections of black Americans. The StoryCorps Griot Booth is currently in Oakland, Calif. All the Griot Initiative recordings are archived at the Library of Congress. A copy of each interview will also go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

To find out where the StoryCorps Griot Initiative will be next, visit the StoryCorps Website. To locate a StoryCorps recording booth, visit News & Notes' new blog, "News & Views".

This week's segment was produced by Selly Thiam. Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.



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