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Into America

Into America is a show about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake.

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Into America is a show about being Black in America. These stories explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake.

Street Disciples: The Concrete Jungle

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Hip-hop is a rose that grew from concrete. And there’s no other place it could have grown than the fertile soil of the South Bronx. At the beginning of the 20th Century, urban planning destroyed neighborhoods and led to white flight, and tall high-density towers re-arranged the landscape of the borough. Around the same time, a massive wave of Caribbean immigrants and Black Southerners were migrating to the South Bronx, leading to a convergence of cultures that would light a spark for the birth of hip-hop in the summer of 1973.

Hip-hop is turning 50 this year. So, for Black History Month, Into America is presenting “Street Disciples: Politics, Power, and the Rise of Hip-Hop.” Trymaine Lee is looking back on the political conditions and policies that have inspired half a century of hip-hop, and how over time, hip-hop began to shape America. 

On part one of “Street Disciples,” how the concrete jungle of New York in the 1970s led to the birth and spread of hip-hop. Trymaine is joined by: Kool DJ Red Alert, DJ Grandwizzard Theodore, historian Mark Anthony Neal, sociologist Tricia Rose, and journalist Davey D.

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit our homepage.

Check out our previous Black History series here: 

Feb 02 2023

51mins

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Vote for Into America

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Into America with Trymaine Lee is nominated for two NAACP Image Awards! And we need your vote to win. 

To vote, click HERE. (Or type in your browser: vote.naacpimageawards.net)

Scroll to the bottom to find the podcast section. Then select Into America for both “Outstanding News & Information Podcast,” as well as “Outstanding Society & Culture Podcast.”

Once you're done, hit “cast your vote.” 

And remember to spread the word! Once you’ve voted, share the news with your circles. You can tag the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Voting closes on Friday, February, 10th. 

Thanks for supporting Into America!

Jan 27 2023

1min

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Reconstructed: The Book of Trayvon (2022)

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Trayvon Martin’s hoodie was never supposed to end up in an exhibit on Reconstruction at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. But then the 17-year-old boy was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, while carrying nothing but a cell phone, a pack of Skittles, and a can of iced tea. 

Kidada Williams, a history professor at Wayne State University tells Trymaine Lee that she sees a clear through line between Reconstruction and Trayvon Martin. “The way he was targeted for minding his own business, the way he was demonized, and in some cases blamed for his own [death] is very consistent with what happened during Reconstruction,” she explains.

Like Emmett Till before him, Trayvon’s story galvanized a people and changed a nation. Protests sprang up across the country as the story gained traction, helped in large part by Trymaine Lee’s reporting. A generation of young people became activists, and the phrase “Black Lives Matter” became a rallying cry.

But when Trayvon became a face of the movement, it came with a cost — born largely by those closest to Trayvon, like his dad, Tracy Martin. "I’m giving to society, but do society really understand what I've given up?” he asks. "We don't look to bury our kids. We don't look to eulogize them or try to define what their legacy is to be. And during that process, man, it just, it really tears you up.” 

(Original release date: February 24, 2022)

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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Jan 26 2023

56mins

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Reconstructed: Keep the Faith, Baby (2022)

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On June 17, 2015, a white extremist shot and killed nine Black people in the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina as they gathered for a bible study group. 

This wasn’t the first time Mother Emanuel had been attacked. In the 1820s, white people burned down Mother Emanuel in retaliation over a failed slave rebellion. For years, the congregation was forced to meet in secret. But through all the violence and backlash, the Black congregants relied on their faith, and during Reconstruction, they rebuilt. 

Mother Emanuel’s history mirrors the story of Black America. Through the centuries, faith has helped Black people find freedom, community, and strength, even in the face of violence.

This tradition of faith in the face of backlash holds true today. Trymaine talks with Bree Newsome Bass, whose incredible protest of scaling a 30-foot pole to take down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol made her an icon of the movement. Bree’s actions led to the permanent removal of the Confederate flag from the state house. And she tells Trymaine that faith was the foundation of it all.

(Original release date: February 17, 2022)

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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Jan 19 2023

1hr 3mins

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Healing Tremé

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New Orleans’s Tremé neighborhood is one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in America, and at the heart of that wasClaiborne Avenue. In the 1960s, construction of the I-10 highway cut through the community. 

But now, thanks to funding from the recent infrastructure bill, community residents might have the resources to heal. Proposals for the Claiborne Expressway have included everything from tearing down the freeway completely, to taking the federal grant funding and investing it into the community. 

Raynard Sanders a lifelong New Orleanian and the Executive Director of the Claiborne History Project. He says the most important thing is that the community have a say in what happens next. On this bonus episode of Into America, he talks to host Trymaine Lee about the history of the Tremé neighborhood, and the fight to save it.  

This conversation is part of an MSNBC town hall on racial equity and healing, hosted by Trymaine Lee, Joy Reid, and Chris Hayes, and sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation.

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit our homepage.

Jan 17 2023

27mins

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Reconstructed: In Search of the Promised Land (2022)

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In 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman asked a group of African Americans in Georgia what they needed most to start their new lives as free people. The answer: land. 

This led to Sherman’s order that every Black family in the region receive 40 acres, and an Army mule if they liked. It was a promise the government decided not to keep, but where the government failed, the newly freed made their own way. 

In the second episode of “Reconstructed,” Trymaine Lee visits Promised Land. Founded just after the Civil War in the Upcountry region, Promised Land, South Carolina was self-sufficient, with a church, school, and farms to nourish its people’s mind and body. Trymaine talks to Reverend Willie Neal Norman Jr. and Elestine Smith Norman, a couple who can trace their Promised Lands roots back over a century. 

And Into America travels to rural Georgia to learn about a group of 19 families who bought several hundred acres in 2020 with the dream of creating a new town: Freedom. 

(Original release date: February 10, 2022)

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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Jan 12 2023

51mins

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Reconstructed: Birth of a Black Nation (2022)

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In February 2022, Into America launched “Reconstructed,” a series about the legacy of Reconstruction.

The story begins in the late 1860s, as the newly freed became citizens under the law and Black men gained the right to vote. Black Americans across the South suddenly had the power to exert control over their own lives. In the face of horrific violence from their white neighbors, Black people voted in liberal governments across the South, elevating hundreds of their own to places of political power. 

Perhaps no one exemplifies this more than the late Congressman Robert Smalls. As his great-great-grandson Michael Boulware Moore tells Trymaine Lee, Smalls’ daring escape from slavery and wartime actions made him a hero. Then, like hundreds of newly freed Black Americans, he decided to get involved in politics in his hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina. 

And more than a century later, we still see the impact of this brief time of Black political power, through people like the current Democratic National Committee chair and South Carolina native Jaime Harrison, who tells Trymaine how today’s 20th-Century fight for voting rights is a continuation of the Reconstruction era. 

(Original release date: February 3, 2022)

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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Jan 05 2023

56mins

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Where Are They Now?, 2022 Edition

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We’re welcoming in a new year by checking in on a few former guests. 

Tavonia Evans, founder of the cryptocurrency Guapcoin, gives us the state of her digital economy after the fall of FTX. We also speak with Fragrance Harris Stanfield, a survivor of the Tops shooting in Buffalo, for updates on her perseverance post-tragedy, and talk with one of the families with links to the Tulsa massacre we met in 2021. And we catch up with Akeem Brown, founder of the San Antonio charter school Essence Prep after completing its first semester. Plus, we get new insights from Trymaine Lee’s daughter, Nola Lee, who just turned 10. As we reflect with our guests, we want to take this time to thank you, the listeners, for coming on this journey with us.

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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  • To listen to each of the original episodes in this year-end update, visit our website or click the links in the description above
  • And check our guest updates from the end of 2021

Dec 29 2022

35mins

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Christmas, But Make it Black

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Black Christmas music is a genre of its own. From originals like “All I Want for Christmas is You,” to our spin on the so-called classics, these songs have become a staple in Black households. 

In the spirit of the holiday season, Trymaine sits down with music industry veteran Naima Cochrane to take us on a deep dive into some of the best and most influential Black Christmas songs of all time. We get into Whitney Houston’s take on “Joy to the World,” James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” and more!

And, we get the back-story on “This Christmas” from Nadine Scott McKinnor, the writer behind the Donny Hathaway classic.

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica.

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Dec 22 2022

38mins

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Into Our Mailbag

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After nearly 3 years and 200 episodes, Into America is having its first mailbag episode! We’ve asked for questions from listeners, former guests, and friends of the show. From moments that Trymaine has never forgotten, to critical feedback from listeners, to the best place in Brooklyn to buy a suit... we get into a little bit of everything. 

Show host Trymaine Lee and Executive Producer Aisha Turner let listeners peer behind the curtain of how this podcast works, as they talk about their favorite moments, trickiest decisions, and what’s coming next for the show. 

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Dec 15 2022

38mins

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Bethesda’s Lost Colony

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When Marsha Coleman-Adebayo heard a rumor that members of her church might be buried under a parking lot for a high-rise apartment building, she couldn’t believe it. This small plot of land in the wealthy, white suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, had once been part of the Black community that flourished here after emancipation, and was now dwindling due to development and gentrification. 

The land was now worth tens of millions of dollars, and developers were eyeing it for further construction. So Marsha became part of a years-long fight between the county and former residents of River Road, the once-thriving Black community within Bethesda, to save and memorialize the Moses Macedonia African Cemetery.

This week, Trymaine travels to River Road to meet with Marsha and Harvey Mathews, a descendant of the community who can still remember what once was. They visit the site of the former cemetery and the tiny church fighting to preserve the memory of their ancestors.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Dec 08 2022

42mins

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#RIPBlackTwitter?

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It’s been just over a month since Elon Musk became CEO of Twitter, capping off a months-long, controversial, $44 billion takeover.  

The company has drastically changed under Musk, from losing an estimated two-thirds of its staff to layoffs and resignations, to looser content regulations, to reinstating notable banned accounts such as former President Donald Trump

The changes have left many Black users uncertain of their future on the site, and that poses a danger to one of the site’s most vibrant, creative, and influential communities: Black Twitter. 

Black Twitter has given us countless memes and viral videos, and powered movements like #OscarsSoWhite and #BlackLivesMatter. But does Elon Musk’s leadership mean the end of the Black Twitter we know? Host Trymaine Lee talks with Meredith D. Clark, a professor at Northeastern who studies Black Twitter, and Jamilah Lemieux, a writer who has been a prominent voice in the community.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Dec 01 2022

30mins

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Blue Skies, Black Wings

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Since the advent of powered flight, African Americans have been fighting for a spot in the skies. During World War I Eugene Jacques Bullard made a name for himself as the first African American military pilot. But Bullard flew for the French Foreign Legion – because at the time, the U.S. military refused to train Black pilots. Later, in 1939, the Tuskegee Airmen would go on to win honor and distinction escorting bombers and flying attack missions during WWII, proving the skill and fitness of Black pilots.

Yet, despite the advances of the twentieth century, today less than 2% of pilots are Black, with the high cost of learning to fly acting as a barrier to many. Now, as the nation faces pilot shortages, the airline industry is turning to HBCUs to fill the gap. Major airlines like United, Southwest and Delta have partnered with the schools to fill their cockpits with more diverse pilots.

This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee speaks to Captain Barrington Irving about his efforts to inspire the next generation of Black pilots and about his barrier-breaking career in the skies. Captain Irving is the founder of the Flying Classroom, and in 2007 he became the first Black man, and the youngest person at the time, to fly around the world solo. We check in with Captain Irving’s mentee, Tremaine Johnson, who’s learning to fly at an HBCU in Florida. And we speak with Captain Irving’s own mentor, Captain Gary Robinson, who began his career at a time when there were even less Black pilots than there are today.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Nov 24 2022

37mins

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Wakanda is Forever

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Marvel’s Black Panther has always been more than a superhero franchise. Since the first film came out in 2018, the characters and their utopian home, the fictional African nation of Wakanda, have become ingrained in popular culture. “Wakanda forever” became more than a line from a movie — it transformed into shorthand for Black pride and excellence.

Now, the long-awaited sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is once again redefining the genre. 

Filmed after the death of star Chadwick Boseman, who had played King T’Challa aka the Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler decided the movie would tackle the tragedy head on, and show a nation in mourning.

This week on Into America, Trymaine Lee sits down with Kelley Carter, a reporter for ESPN’s Andscape, to talk about why the franchise resonates so deeply, and how the sequel deals with grief and the legacy of the Black Panther. Trymaine also speaks to author Eve L. Ewing, who writes Marvel’s Ironheart comic series, about the importance of Black superheroes.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Nov 17 2022

38mins

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These Polls Ain’t Loyal

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The morning after Election Day, results were still being counted and analyzed from the 2022 midterms. It seemed likely that Republicans would control the House, but without the “red wave” many analysts were predicting. 

Into America host Trymaine Lee spent Election Day, Tuesday November 8th, in Atlanta, Georgia. He spoke to people who waited in line vote, hoping to make their mark, after Republicans passed new voting restrictions. 

In that state, voters ultimately decided that incumbent Republican Brian Kemp would stay on as Georgia’s governor. Democrat Stacey Abrams conceded late Tuesday night. And the next morning, the Senate race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Hershel Walker was to too close to call, and headed for run-off. 

On Wednesday morning, Trymaine Lee sat down with analysts Jason Johnson and Cornell Belcher. They talked about what we know so far, what it all means for Black people, and what the early polls got right (and wrong) about the Black vote. 

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Nov 10 2022

31mins

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The Ghosts of Midterms Past

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Midterm elections are critical junctures for Black America, moments in time that have transformed the wellbeing of the community — for better or worse.

In 1962, the Democrats’ strong showing helped pave the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Backlash to President Clinton brought the Republican Revolution of 1994, which led to the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. And in 2010, President Obama lost control of Congress, essentially halting major legislative progress for the rest of his presidency. 

On this episode of Into America, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, recounts what it was like being elected in 1994, and surviving the red wave of 2010 — two elections she says had disastrous consequences for her Black constituents. 

And according to Ted Johnson, an expert in the Black electorate at the Brennan Center for Justice, 2022 is shaping up to be another crucial year. Columbia University professor Fredrick Harris put it this way: “History does not repeat itself,” he told us, “but it sure does rhyme.”

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Nov 03 2022

32mins

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Life, Loss, and Libations

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When someone in the Black community dies, we honor them with vibrant, spiritual homegoings and repasts as a celebration of their life. That’s because honoring someone in death is a reflection of how we loved them in life. This Fall, as the weather gets cooler and calls for introspection, and as some cultures celebrate Day of the Dead and All Souls Day, we’re looking to the Black burial and mourning traditions that buoy us year after year. 

On this episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee speaks with Dr. Karla F.C. Holloway, author of the book “Passed On: African American Mourning Stories, a Memorial,” to discuss the origins of Black burial practices, how these traditions are passed down, and why they matter. Historical archeologist Dr. Brittany L. Brown also joins us to talk about her research into a previously undiscovered African American burial site.

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Oct 27 2022

43mins

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W. Kamau Bell to White People: “Do the Work!”

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Comedy is an art form that consistently provides some of the most insightful social commentary to be found. When the best comics get on stage, they shine a light on the darker, often uncomfortable, parts of our collective psyche, in the process opening a door for discussion. 

W. Kamau Bell is a comedian who has used his art to highlight our country’s complicated relationship with race. And his CNN series, United Shades of America, follows Bell as he visits communities across the country, exploring the unique challenges they face. Along the way Bell has developed a fan base eager to hear his thoughts on race. And many of those fans are white allies.

Bell's latest book, co-authored with Kate Schatz, who is white, is directed squarely at those white fans. Titled Do The Work!, it’s structured as a workbook for adults, complete with concrete actions they can take to create an anti-racist society. This week on Into America, host Trymaine Lee sits down with Bell to discuss how the book overlaps with his career in comedy. Plus, he and Trymaine take a deep dive into their favorite Denzel Washington movies. 

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Oct 20 2022

32mins

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The Power of the Black Vote: Creating A New South

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On the final stop of our HBCU tour on The Power of the Black Vote, we travel to Atlanta, home of three of the most prestigious historically Black colleges and universities: Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta, to talk with HBCU students about the Black youth vote. 

Georgia has always played a significant role in the fight for voting rights in this country. And when Stacey Abrams lost her race for governor in 2018, young Black voters who were tired and fed-up began to mobilize on their campuses. For years, Black student voter turnout was on the decline in the state, but with rising voter suppression tactics and voter purges, student organizers and grassroots organizations started a movement to get out the vote. This resulted in an unprecedented Black youth voter turnout in the 2020 general election, which ultimately led to Georgia turning blue for the first time in years. 

But with the midterm election right around the corner, student organizers like Janiah Henry, a student political activist at Clark Atlanta University, are struggling to keep that momentum going. 

On this episode of Into America, Trymaine speaks with Henry about how she is energizing the Black youth to get out and vote this November. He also speaks with Ciarra Malone, an organizer forCampus Vote Project, who has made it her mission to strengthen civic engagement on HBCU campuses throughout the state. 

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Oct 13 2022

37mins

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The Power of the Black Vote: We Save Ourselves

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Despite being the Blackest state in the country, Mississippi has little Black political representation; and the state’s policies have been hostile to its predominately Black capital city of Jackson. But in the face of the state’s political neglect, Black people have never stopped fighting to make their communities stronger. During the Civil Rights Movement, Mississippi was ground zero for activism, with Jackson State at the center. Now, a new generation is drawing on that tradition to look out for their communities. 

One of those people is Jackson State Junior Maisie Brown. She’s stepped up during the city’s water crisis to fill the gaps left by the state. As part of Into America’s “Power of the Black Vote” tour ahead of the midterms, host Trymaine Lee joins Maisie as she travels around Jackson, delivering clean drinking water to residents. 

And we visit Jackson State alum Laurie Bertram Roberts, founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. Laurie has spent her life fighting for reproductive rights, but her job has gotten harder after the fall of Roe. 

Trymaine also speaks with JSU history professor Robert Luckett about the social and political forces at work in the state. 

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, using the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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Oct 06 2022

48mins

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iTunes Ratings

830 Ratings
Average Ratings
645
78
39
20
48

Excellent podcast!

By Harryprince1234 - May 17 2020
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Highly recommended. Great reporting and interviews, with very important topics covered.

Great show!

By Bjkaria - May 13 2020
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Really liked the Al Sharpton interview.