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Black History Month: What's Happening at NPR?

Black History Month is here! From February 1st to March 1st, we will be celebrating Black voices with special programming and episodes.

Multiple NPR podcasts and radio stories discuss, highlight, and uplift Black voices throughout the year. Last year, Code Switch compiled a variety of episodes that touched on activism, significant historical events, and more. Alt. Latino has highlighted multiple Afro-Latinx artists that do not always fit in the traditional boxes from 'Black, Latino And Proud' in 2014 to 'A Look At New Music With Afro-Latinx Roots' in 2018.

Achieving diversity and inclusion requires us to acknowledge and understand history and discuss the weight of racial injustices around the country. For NPR, this celebration goes beyond one month.

Continue to visit this section for updates on initiatives, events, and episodes at NPR to honor Black history:


In honor of Black History Month, Throughline is looking at the lives and legacies of three Black visionaries who imagined new worlds for the Black diaspora: Marcus Garvey, Octavia Butler and Bayard Rustin.

  • February 11: Decades before the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's debated tactics of non-violence vs. self-defense, Marcus Garvey attracted millions of members and turned tens of thousands into the streets with a simple, uncompromising message: Black people deserved nothing less than everything, and if that couldn't happen in the United States, they should return to Africa. This week, the seismic influence and complicated legacy of Marcus Garvey.
  • February 18: Octavia Butler was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. She described herself as a pessimist, "if I'm not careful." As an award winning science fiction writer and 'mother of Afrofuturism,' her visionary works of alternate realities reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. Butler was fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warnings is her message of hope - a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perished in her books, came a story of rebuilding, of repair. These are themes Butler was intimately familiar with in her life. She broke on to the science fiction scene at a time when she knew of no other Black woman in the field, saying she simply had to "write herself in."
  • February 25: Bayard Rustin was one of the most consequential architects of the Civil Rights Movement you may never have heard of. Beginning in the 1940s he imagined how the tactics of Gandhi's nonviolent civil resistance could be used to dismantle segregation in the United States. He organized around the idea for years and eventually introduced it to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. For the rest of King's life, Rustin was one of his crucial strategists. But his identity as a gay man made him a target, obscured his rightful status and made him feel forced to choose, again and again, which aspect of his identity was most important.
  • On Thurs, Feb 11 at 8pm ET join Throughline hosts Rund Abdelfatah, Ramtin Arablouei, plus Trivia mastermind Terri Simonfor for three rounds of friendly, competitive trivia inspired by the podcast.


    It's Been A Minute:

    Tune in on February 2 for Sam Sanders' 'Fresh Air' episode with Angela Bassett, where she discusses what it's like to be a Black woman in the entertainment industry. On Feb 9, Sam talks to comedians Desus Nice and The Kid Mero.

    Pop Culture Happy Hour:

    If you're interested in hearing more on Black creators, artists, and entertainers, check out these episodes from 'Pop Culture Happy Hour': 'Digging Into Slate's Black Film Canon'.

    NPR Music

    NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres.
    / NPR
    NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres.

    Black History Month x Tiny Desk

    NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres. The lineup includes both emerging and established artists who will be performing a Tiny Desk concert for the first time.

    The Black History Month celebration will also highlight the history of Black artists at the Tiny Desk with special playlists from the archives of the Tiny Desk through weekly curated playlists from prominent figures.

    Here's the full schedule of performances:

    WEEK 1: JAZZ

  • 2/2: Wynton Marsalis
  • 2/3: Immanuel Wilkins
  • 2/4: Melanie Charles
  • WEEK 2: R&B

  • 2/8: Meshell Ndegeocello
  • 2/9: Giveon
  • 2/10: KeiyaA

  • 2/15: Rick Ross
  • 2/16: 2 Chainz
  • 2/17: Rae Khalil

  • 2/22: Wizkid
  • 2/23: Bartees Strange
  • 2/24: Sampa The Great
  • 2/25: Kirk Franklin
  • Louder Than A Riot Roundtable Discussion

    On February 19th Louder Than A Riothosts Sidney Maddenand Rodney Carmichaelwill lead, 'Louder Than A Riot Remixed: The State of Rhyme & Punishment', a virtual roundtable discussion on NPR Music's YouTube. In this discussion, panelists will dive deeper into the issues discussed on the first season of the podcast: race, mass incarceration, and the music industry. Sidney and Rodney will be joined by distinguished tastemakers and creative thought leaders in the activism and entertainment spaces.

    Alt. Latino

    Alt.Latino's annual observance of Black History month will once again feature music from the Afro Latino experience. Tune in on February 26 for interviews with two examples of how the African diaspora continues to be present in music: for over 40 years Bay Area vocalist Bobi Céspedes has been celebrating her Afro Cuban roots through her music and a new recording; Chucky73 is part of a NYC based crew of Dominican traperos who also celebrate their Afro Latino culture in their music.

    KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans explores and investigates the historical and present day ties between the nation of Haiti and the city of New Orleans with a focus on the music that bonds together the places and people. Hosted by the Grammy-winning Leyla McCalla and produced by WXPN, KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans will be available starting February 1, 2021. This limited-run series will feature three hours, including a two-hour audio documentary special and one hour of needle drop music. Full details on the series can be found .

    It's Been A Min With Sam Sanders

    On February 5, Sam talks to Black Girl Songbookhost Danyel Smith about Whitney Houston's 1991 Super Bowl national anthem; they dive into that moment of Black history and what it says about race, patriotism and pop culture.

    Podcast Playlist

    Get into some of our favorite episodes talking about Black pop culture icons, wealth, advertising, fashion, and more, across 12 different shows from NPR. Black stories are everywhere— we just have to listen.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Nicole Collazo Santana