Michele Norris

Michele Norris is one of the most respected voices in American journalism. As NPR host and special correspondent, Norris produces in-depth profiles, interviews and series, and guest hosts NPR News programs.

Norris also leads the "The Race Card Project," an initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America that she created after the publication of her 2010 family memoir, The Grace of Silence. In the book she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America's complicated racial history.

Most recently, Norris was a host on NPR's All Things Considered, where she informed, engaged and enlightened listeners with thoughtful interviews and in-depth reporting. An award-winning journalist, Norris has interviewed world leaders, Nobel laureates, Oscar winners, American presidents, military leaders, influential newsmakers and even astronauts traveling in outer space. She is known for her approachable interviewing style that is both relaxed and rigorous.

From a two-part roundtable discussion with a group of parents about the challenges they faced with childcare to a series looking into what it means to be all-American in this country's increasing multiculturalism, Norris reports on the issues that affect people, from working parents to career politicians, in small communities and large cities all across the country. Norris teamed up with NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep for a series of conversations with voters in York, PA, about race and its role in the 2008 presidential election.

In addition to this deep reporting, Norris regularly interviews newsmakers, from politicians to prominent individuals such as Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC), Paul Ryan (R-WI) and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before joining NPR in 2002, Norris spent almost ten years as a reporter for ABC News in the Washington Bureau. She has also worked as a staff writer for The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Norris has received numerous awards for her work. In 2009, she was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists. The NABJ recognized Norris for her body of work, in addition to her coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign — when she co-hosted NPR's Democratic presidential candidates debate, covered both conventions, anchored multi-hour election and inauguration live broadcasts and moderated a series of candid conversations with voters on the intersection of race and politics. That series earned Norris and Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep an Alfred I. duPont -Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcasting.

Norris was honored with NABJ's 2006 Salute to Excellence Award, for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina; the University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award; and the 1990 Livingston Award for a series about a six-year-old who lived in a crack house. That series was reprinted in the book, Ourselves Among Others, along with essays by Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Annie Dillard and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In 2009, Norris was named one of Essence magazine's 25 Most Influential Black Americans and elected to Ebony magazine's Power 150 List. She was honored with Ebony's 8th Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications Award in 2007.

Norris earned both an Emmy Award and Peabody Award for her contribution to ABC News' coverage of 9/11. She is on the judging committee for both the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Livingston Awards. Norris is a frequent guest on NBC's Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show.

In 2010, Norris' book The Grace of Silence: A Memoir was published. In the book she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America's complicated racial history.

She attended the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in electrical engineering and graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she studied journalism.

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The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
3:14 am
Wed May 1, 2013

For A Black Doctor, Building Trust By Slowing Down

Dr. Gregory McGriff, who serves a predominantly white community, says he finds he has to communicate a bit more than his white colleagues to earn his patients' trust.
Courtesy of Gregory McGriff

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 9:58 pm

It may be hard to imagine that people can distill their thoughts on a topic as complicated as race into just six words. But thousands of people have done just that for The Race Card Project, in which NPR host/special correspondent Michele Norris invites people to send in their microstories about race and cultural identity.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:20 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

March Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz'

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:50 am

Our next book club adventure takes us on a journey that is familiar to people across generations: We will be taking a trip down the yellow brick road with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900. It is one of the most beloved stories in popular American culture, but over the decades, the book has taken a back seat to the wildly successful Wizard of Oz film.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
5:01 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

A Young Artist Finds Solace In Creatures Of The Sea And Sky

Courtesy James Prosek and Waqas Wajahat, New York

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 1:30 pm

In February, NPR's Backseat Book Club read a novel about a troubled kid who finds both strength and solace in the artwork of the renowned naturalist John James Audubon. The novel, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, takes place in 1968 in a little town in upstate New York where middle-schooler Doug Swietek is drowning in life's complications.

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Best Books Of 2012
7:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

The Year's Outstanding 'Backseat' Reads, For Ages 9 To 14

Emily Davis for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 4:26 pm

Since this was an election year, NPR's Backseat Book Club decided to hold an informal poll to identify the best-loved children's books of 2012. We know that "kid lit" is a big category, stretching from baby-proof board books all the way to young-adult titles with fetching werewolves on the covers. But we're interested in books that hit the sweet spot for backseat readers — kids between 9 and 14 years of age. So we reached out to booksellers and one librarian to find out which books bowled them over this year.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:16 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

How 'Black Beauty' Changed The Way We See Horses

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 11:45 pm

NPR's Backseat Book Club is back! And we begin this round of reading adventures with a cherished classic: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Generations of children and adults have loved this book. With vivid detail and simple, yet lyrical prose, Black Beauty describes both the cruelty and kindness that an ebony-colored horse experiences through his lifetime — from the open pastures in the English countryside to the cobblestone grit of 19th-century England.

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
12:50 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

November Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Red Pyramid'

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 12:21 pm

Mention the name Rick Riordan to adults, and they might say, "Huh?" But kids? They know. Riordan has been burning up the best-seller lists with three different series of books that all feature modern-day kids entangled in the lives of ancient gods. The Red Pyramid — the December pick of NPR's Backseat Book Club — features a brother and sister who have no idea they are descended from age-old sorcerers until their archaeologist father accidentally unleashes ancient gods into modern society.

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