Listeners Talk Segregation, Black History Books

Hear what listeners had to say about a story on the African-American film, Banished; what they're reading for Black History Month and a correction to an error made Thursday in the roundtable discussion about Kosovo's independence.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations happening on the TELL ME MORE blog and get a chance to hear from you. Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me in the studio, as always. Hey, Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, there are two, okay actually maybe three, things I want to revisit today. First our conversation with Marco Williams about the film "Banished," which retells the history of thousands of African-Americans who were forced out of their homes and communities by white beginning in the late 1800s.

Well, Michel, we got a blog post from Grace(ph), one of our listeners. She's white but feels like she can relate to the stories of the film because of her family's experience during the Great Depression. I'll read a little bit of her note.

My family was so poor, she says, the depression wasn't affecting them at all, but they had land that had been theirs for generations, 1700s to 1800s, snatched away by the government never to be seen again. And while Grace is not claiming racial discrimination, she does feel her family was the victim of economic discrimination.

MARTIN: Thank you, Grace. And you might have heard this yesterday, too.

MARTIN: This has enabled me to end this state of feeling state-less, and now I'm just thrilled that I have a country, I belong to a country, and I can call myself a Kosovar.

MARTIN: That's a clip from a roundtable discussion we had yesterday with a group of Kosovar Albanians living here in Washington, D.C. They were reacting to Kosovo's recent vote to declare independence with Serbia. The new country has already been recognized by the U.S. and much of Europe.

We've already received e-mails asking us to include perspectives from Serbs and how they are reacting to the news. Just to let you know, we are following the story, and we certainly do plan to have additional conversations on this topic.

Also in that conversation, I made an incorrect reference to Ghana in saying that people are being targeted there based on their ethnic group. I was actually referring to the post-election violence in Kenya. I apologize for that brain-freeze. I think I was thinking about Ghana because it was one of the stops on President Bush's trip to Africa this week.

HILL: Okay, I'll give you that, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Okay.

HILL: Well finally, taking a sharp turn here, we're wrapping up Black History Month. Now, there are only a few days left, and what a great month it's been. We've even had a lot of programs here at NPR for our staff. Well, we put a couple of calls out there to our listeners, asking you to let us know what you're reading this month.

Laurie, one of our listeners in Virginia, had this to share.

LAURIE: I just finished two books that were so different and so interesting. One was James McBride's book about his Jewish mother and growing up black, called "The Color of Water." The other was a fantasy by the late Octavia Butler, called "Fledgling," about the first black vampire. I didn't purposefully choose these books because it's Black History Month. By the way, I absolutely love your show.

MARTIN: Why, thank you, Laurie, and we love you too. And thank you, Lee, and we love you too.

HILL: And thank you, Michel. Nothing but love on this end.

MARTIN: And to tell us more about what you think and hear more about what other listeners have on their minds and to call me out on my mistakes, go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

And that's our program for today.

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