STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Our StoryCorps project, which we hear from at this time every Friday morning, hardly ever - in fact, never - has a story that's remade. Americans sit down and talk with each other, talk with friends and loved ones. And it's amazing the variety of stories that come to our attention. That has led to the National Day of Listening, which is today - your chance to sit down with a loved one, turn on a tape recorder and ask that loved one about his or her life.
Today, we will hear a talk with our own Juan Williams. He spoke with his daughter, Regan Williams Herald, as she is expecting his first grandchild, Juan has been reflecting about his own roots.
JUAN WILLIAMS: You know, when I think of my dad - spent much of his life in Panama, trained boxers for a living. And when I think of that life I think of him coming to the U.S. when he was in his 60s. I think to myself, wow, I would be a different person if I had lived in the West Indies or grown up in Panama.
So, when I think of your child, Regan, for me, I didn't know what was possible. For your child, there is a much grander horizon. I remember, you know, wanting to be a newspaper writer when I was a little boy in Brooklyn. Look in the big papers - The New York Times, the Daily News, The New York Post - there were no black reporters. You had to go to a black newspaper to see something like that. And I've always had to have that sense of limit and trying to break through the limits, and I don't think that will be the case for your daughter or your son.
Ms. REGAN WILLIAMS HERALD: What do you think about the fact that the child's going to be coming from our very culturally mixed background, with Patrick's family, who is white - they are Irish and English and German?
WILLIAMS: Well, I always think it's funny that we named you Regan - R-E-G-A-N -and we all call you Ray-Ray, Ray-Ray the bay-bay. You were such a darling little baby - so cuddly.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: Aren't I still darling?
WILLIAMS: Yes, you are, but not as fat as you used to be. And when people hear your name now, which has gone from Regan Williams to Regan Herald, they must imagine you're Irish.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: Yeah.
WILLIAMS: But there you show up and you're this beautiful young black woman. So. I think that for the child, I don't imagine that race will not be an issue, but I think it's just going to be a non-issue, if you will, that it's just a very small issue for someone who will have education and have opportunity. He or she will have to divine their identity and their sense of how they create racial identity in the West Indian, Caribbean, Latin culture that we have.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: Some feistiness too, huh?
WILLIAMS: Oh yeah. I remember when you were born, in fact. You were born at a hospital in Maryland. We had relatives come from New York who brought everything from hams and gin, to cigarettes because I guess they think we lived in the woods or something 'cause it's not New York City. But at the hospital, people came running and said all these people can't be here. They can't be on, you know, on this floor. They have to go. I don't think they'd ever seen waves of so many loud, celebrating people over the birth of a child.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: I'm sure your parents never imagined that their plan to relocate their family would be so successful in terms of the opportunities that it provided and what guys became. Do you remember the first time that you knew you parents were proud of you?
WILLIAMS: You know, I don't. I always had a sense that I was a loved child, but my mom was so demanding. I remember, you know, once getting a role in the school play in elementary school, and it turns out it was a play about President Lincoln and I was asked to play John Wilkes Booth. And she was so upset. Why would you take such a role? It's not what you should be doing. And I was thinking, my God, I've got a role in the school play. You know, that's pretty incredible.
And I remember even after getting out of college, going to work at the Washington Post, and her attitude was: why aren't you going to graduate school? And I think she saw me at a White House press conference, asking a question of the president, and I think then I heard back from her that, you know, wow, that was great. You know, the neighbors said something to her about it. So, yeah, that was pretty special.
I guess that's a moment that I can identify as a moment of pride for her, you know.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: Yeah.
WILLIAMS: What are the values that you think you would teach your child from that - what do you want the child to know about the fact that he or she comes from this family?
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: I'm kind of hoping that my child gets a lot of you. I think that you're dedication in the way that you've pushed through, being black and having the goals that you have and your dreams and the way you've succeeded. I hope my child has that sense of motivation and drive.
WILLIAMS: I didn't know that you noticed, so that's very special to hear that from you.
Ms. WILLIAMS HERALD: How could I not know that?
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INSKEEP: Regan Williams Herald with her dad, NPR News analyst Juan Williams on the National Day of Listening. Find tips to record your own interview at NationalDayofListening.org.
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INSKEEP: It's NPR News.
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