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Cultivating Cultural Roots Into A Career: Meet Michelle Lanier

Note: This program is a rebroadcast. It originally aired May 2, 2016.  

Michelle Lanier’s roots in North Carolina are so deep that she describes “every branch of her family tree having at least a sapling that crosses into the state.” She has a great-grandparent who preached at the oldest black Episcopal church in the state, one who was salesmen on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and one who helped establish the state’s first black high school.  

'One of the reasons I am on this earth is to bear witness to the stories of others'

From a young age, Michelle Lanier has been curious about her roots and how history and culture shape the world around her. She did a monologue on Rosa Parks in 5th grade, attended a makeshift weekend school on African-American history in high school, and was mentored by important leaders in South Carolina’s historic Gullah community. In her adult life, she has turned her deep curiosity about the world into a profession. She has served as the curator of multicultural initiatives for the state’s historic sites, taught classes about oral history at Duke University, and now directs the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michelle Lanier about the forces that shape her, and how she aims to continue her family’s legacy of civic engagement in North Carolina.

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Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.