National Day of Listening: Michel Martin Interviews Best Friend As part of the National Day of Listening, Tell Me More host Michel Martin speaks with Athelia Knight, her best friend and godmother to her children.
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National Day of Listening: Michel Martin Interviews Best Friend

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National Day of Listening: Michel Martin Interviews Best Friend

National Day of Listening: Michel Martin Interviews Best Friend

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I'm Jennifer Ludden, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away.

Coming up, journalist Ann Louise Bardach pulls back the curtain on Fidel Castro's illness in her latest book.

But first, another conversation for the National Day of Listening. All across NPR, you've been hearing these stories, which come to us from our friends at StoryCorps. TELL ME MORE's own Michel Martin sat down to listen to her best friend, Athelia Knight.

MARTIN: Do you remember how we met?

Ms. ATHELIA KNIGHT: I know it was at The Washington Post and I know you had recently arrived in the summer as a summer intern. It was memorable but�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KNIGHT: �you sounded like a little twerp, right?

MARTIN: Right. No, you weren't. I was a twerpy summer intern?

Ms. KNIGHT: No. You - yeah, you were a pest.


Ms. KNIGHT: Yeah.

MARTIN: Did I ever explain to you why I came up to introduce myself?

Ms. KNIGHT: Vaguely. But, no, I don't.

MARTIN: One of the editors who's in charge of us, one of the city editors, said, pointed at you and said her name is Athelia Wilhelmina Knight. And everyday when she walks in the door, she says to herself, I'm going to get on the front page that day. And he said you should meet her and you should try to be like her.

Ms. KNIGHT: Oh, wow.

MARTIN: I took it really literally.

Ms. KNIGHT: You certainly did. Not only did you attach yourself to me at work, but it was even after work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KNIGHT: You did. You're sort of like, what are you doing on the weekend? Let's go to this museum. We must have seen so many exhibits together.

MARTIN: Did I ever get on your nerves?

Ms. KNIGHT: No, I wouldn't say you get on my nerves. No�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KNIGHT: No, I don't think you got on my nerves. But what it was about you, I had never had anyone come into the newsroom like you and be so hungry to learn so many things so quickly. And I liked it because that's one of the reasons I got into journalism is because I was always asking questions - why?

MARTIN: Do I remind you of yourself in any way? Because one of the things that's always been interesting to me is we like a lot of the same things but we're very different. I mean, you're much more discreet than I am.

Ms. KNIGHT: Yes, that's true.

MARTIN: For example�

Ms. KNIGHT: But I think also comes with our background. I mean, you grew up in New York, I grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, which is, you know, Virginia at the time I was growing up was really segregated. As a way of negotiating myself through my life, you know, there were certain things that you did, and certain things that you didn't do. And one of the things that I had questions about was why couldn't I go to the pool that was in my neighborhood? The white kids could. So, that was one of the reasons that I got into journalism because I was always asking the question why.

You know, maybe, I get it from through my mom. I don't know, my mom was - I think she would have been a terrific reporter. She had grown up at an entirely different time. She did not work outside of the home. She raised eight kids. She was a seamstress. She was just so smart.

MARTIN: Was she your role model?

Ms. KNIGHT: Yeah, yeah, yeah, she was. But then you would say, well, she was your role model, you know, you should have gotten married and had kids, and all these other things, but no. I just saw her do so much with so little. You know, my dad was fine too. I don't want to (unintelligible) mom but my dad was�

MARTIN: Athelia, forget it. I know you too much, so don't even bother to credit�

Ms. KNIGHT: No, people will say how could you deal with folks in the newsroom and he really made me tough, you know, because he would say no and then I would, like, okay, well, how can I go back and get that yes, hmm. And you know, maybe, I was conniving. I mean, he loved baseball. He would watch baseball games and when the baseball game would come on, I'd go in and watch the baseball game with him, because I knew eventually he would want a chilidog from the store down the street. And if I was watching the game with him and he sent me to get the chilidog, he would get one for me.

So, you know, I go get the chilidog, watched the game with him, eat my hotdog then go back outside and play. You know, but it wasn't just male chauvinist. You know, I could say well, dad, we're going to Jamestown. The class is going and, you know, the answer would be no. You just want to do something because everyone else is doing it. So, then I would have to sort of say well, you know, Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement, part of our history, blah, blah, blah. And then it's, oh, okay.

MARTIN: Do you think it's funny that we have been friends for so long?

Ms. KNIGHT: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KNIGHT: No, I do. No because, you know, I know that there's some things about being that irk you. I think with all that we have been through I could see all of the ways that you were helping me. Did you know there were some times when you were like trying to figure out what was going on and I wouldn't talk to you? And you would continue to badger me and figure out a way, and you eventually would get me to talk. And, you know, I appreciated you being there and I felt you understood because you're also in this business. And, you know, I just admire, respect, love, consider you just like family, my sister.

MARTIN: I love you.

Ms. KNIGHT: I love you, too.

LUDDEN: That was Athelia Knight interviewed by her best friend and host of TELL ME MORE, Michel Martin. We invite you to take the time to record a story from someone close to you.

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