Lenore Allah left Detroit for New York with her fiance in 1959 and was loving her new life in the Big Apple.
She worked at a Saks Fifth Avenue store where all the hottest movie stars shopped, went to parties and mingled with musicians like Quincy Jones.
But the following year, something in Allah changed when she heard Malcolm X speak at a temple. He asked everyone interested in joining the Nation of Islam, “Who was the original man?”
“And the answer was, the original man is the Asiatic Black man,” Allah said. “That piqued my interest from then on. I wanted to learn all about it. So, I joined the Nation.”
Allah, now 88, talks about her time in the religious organization during the 1960s and 1970s in the second episode of the podcast, “Tapestry in Black,” hosted by her son, Khaliph Young.
The content creator launched the podcast in December and has released five episodes so far. Each focuses on Black Detroiters reflecting on their experiences in the 60s, from joining the Nation of Islam to getting involved in the Civil Rights Movement and serving (or avoiding serving) in the Vietnam War.
Young, 58, of Detroit, told BridgeDetroit that he wanted to focus on that decade because it was a hotbed of activity for Black people.
“It was a time that Black people had to make choices and join some type of movement and get out there and stand up for their rights to vote, discrimination and all those things, and so it was just the ideal time period to start with,” he said.
A decade full of turning points
Young is no stranger to content creation. He has worked in journalism and communications for more than 30 years, with stints at Detroit Public Television, BET and the communications department for former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
He said the idea of “Tapestry in Black” came to him when he was working on another podcast called “Soulitude: The Human Experience of Self.” Young heard a story from his daughter’s uncle, Thornton Perkins, a history professor at Washtenaw Community College. Perkins traveled to Mississippi in the 60s to participate in a voter registration march after hearing a speech from civil rights activist Stokley Carmichael. After recording his experience, Young was interested in hearing more stories from Detroiters.
Along with Perkins and his mother, the podcast features former Detroit Public Television host Gerald Smith, who avoided being drafted to Vietnam when his priest filled out a “conscientious objector” form, veteran Louis Thomas and his time in the war and Larry Bragg, who came of age during the decade.
The season finale will feature Robert Warfield, the executive director of the nonprofit Bing Youth Institute and former manager of WDIV-TV. Young said he plans to release the episode sometime this month.
“He was in Memphis in college during a debate and heard the shots that killed MLK,” Young said of Warfield.
While Young knew all of his guests for season 1, he is hoping to have a wider range of people on “Tapestry in Black” for season 2. He also intends to pursue funding to move the podcast to YouTube, where he can turn episodes into mini documentaries. Young plans to release season 2 later this year.
The Detroiter said he has received a good reception on the show from his friends, family and small audience–about 500 listeners so far. But he said the podcast is an ongoing process.
Young said the most important thing is documenting history while his guests are still here to tell their stories.
“It’s important because we have to be able to, especially for young people, be able to look back, so they can know where we’re going because history seems to be repeating itself,” he said. “Our elders are our greatest national treasure because of the history and knowledge, and so, we need to take that time out, to document their stories, to talk to them and learn from their experiences while they’re living.”
“Tapestry in Black” is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Amazon, and Podbean.
This was a very interesting article. This is my first visit. I do not listen to podcast. I’m a detroiter that grew up during the 1960s. I’m not famous but remember a lot from my childhood.
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