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7 Must-Listen Podcast Episodes | Black History Month

February 7, 2022 Deana LaFauci

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in US history. The month represents an important opportunity for all of us to recommit to lifelong learning by seeking out new sources, perspectives and narratives to learn about Black history.

To support you on your leadership journey this February, and all year, check out these seven must-listen podcast episodes: 

1. Code Switch: “They came, they saw, they reckoned?” (January 12, 2022)  

Hosted by journalists of color, this award-winning NPR podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. The hosts explore how race affects every part of society—from politics and pop culture to history, food and everything in between. Code Switch was named Apple Podcasts’ first-ever Show of the Year in 2020. 

In this episode, the Code Switch team discusses an important moment in time: A year out from the so-called “racial reckoning” that marked the summer of 2020, they are asking: What was actually reckoned with? And by whom? And what would the backlash be?  

2. Code Switch: “Remembering the iconic, complicated André Leon Talley” (January 23, 2022) 

Fashion journalist André Leon Talley, who died this January, has been described over and over again as “larger than life.” But on this episode, brought to us by NPR’s Code Switch podcast, three queer Black men talk about the smaller, more personal moments that made Talley such an icon in the fashion world—and in the broader culture. 

3. Historically Black: “The Spirit of the Million Man March” (September 26, 2016)  

While this podcast is a few years old, the engaging episodes are worth revisiting each year. 

As part of the Washington Post’s coverage of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, people submitted dozens of objects that make up their own lived experiences of Black history, creating a “people’s museum” of personal objects, family photos and more. 

The Historically Black podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound and music. In this episode, the Million Man March of 1995 is recreated through the conversation between a young woman and her father, who attended it. He talks about how the event changed his life, and she recalls what it meant to see a poster of the march hanging on the wall of her father’s den since she was a girl. 

4. The Daily: “The Life and Legacy of Sidney Poitier” (January 14, 2022)  

In this episode from the New York Times podcast The Daily, Wesley Morris, a Times culture critic, reflects on the life of Sidney Poitier, who was Hollywood’s first Black matinee idol and who helped open the door for Black actors in the film industry.  

“His legacy is so much wider and deeper than the art itself,” Wesley said. “This man has managed to affect what we see, how we relate to people, who we think we are, who we should aspire to be. And if that’s not a sign of greatness, I don’t know what is. 

5. The Humanity Archive: “Juneteenth: Celebrate Freedom” (June 7, 2021)  

The Humanity Archive, hosted by Jermaine Fowler, is filled with provocative, honest and fascinating stories from history and includes compelling narratives and diverse conversations. 

In this episode, The Humanity Archive outlines the historical significance and importance of Juneteenth, an annual holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day a group of enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free—some two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

6. Game Changers Podcast with Molly Fletcher: “Carla Harris on Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor” (September 16, 2021) 

In Molly Fletcher’s popular podcast Game Changers, she takes us behind the scenes with peak performers to learn what makes them tick and to discover how you can apply their lessons to your life. In this episode, she sits down with Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and 2021 Linkage Legend in Leadership Award recipient, for a conversation about sponsorship of women and underrepresented groups. 

Carla began her career on Wall Street at a time when few of her colleagues were Black or women. She oversees Morgan Stanley’s multicultural client strategy, helped build the company’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, and was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. On this episode, Carla shares what she’s learned about pathways to career success. Discover the difference between mentors and sponsors, how to get a sponsor, and why authenticity is your competitive advantage. 

7. NATAL: “Two: Roots of the Black Birthing Crisis” (May 6, 2020)  

NATAL is a podcast docuseries about having a baby while Black in the United States, and features firsthand accounts from Black parents, who tell their own stories in their own words, about their pregnancy, birthing and postpartum care. The docuseries also highlights the birthworkers, medical professionals, researchers and advocates fighting daily for better care for Black birthing parents. 

In this episode, NATAL explores the historical roots of modern obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Joia Crear-Perry and Dr. Mimi Niles explain how flaws in medical education and research contribute to the Black birthing crisis.

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