“In Black America” Celebrates 50 Years

Aug 31, 2020

Public radio show spotlights luminaries and their work advancing the quality of African American life

AUSTIN, Texas – August 31, 2020 – KUT 90.5’s “In Black America,” the nationally syndicated public radio show dedicated to all facets of the African American experience, celebrates 50 years on the air this September.

Since 1970, “In Black America” has featured weekly interviews with some of the most influential African American voices of our time discussing education, economics, social issues, sports, families, culture, literature and politics. 

Luminaries who have appeared on the show during the past 50 years, include comedian and activist Dick Gregory; journalist Susan L. Taylor; writer, photographer, filmmaker and composer Gordon Parks, Sr.; opera singer Barbara Conrad; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; poet and educator Nikki Giovanni; civil right leader Stokely Carmichael; civil rights activist and Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda King; and author Maya Angelou, among many others.

Earlier this year, hundreds of “In Black America” interviews recorded between 1981 and 2004 were restored, digitized and made available to the public, thanks to a grant from Recordings at Risk, a national re-granting program operated by the Council on Library and Information Resources. Public access to the newly digitized episodes is available through the online reading room of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Additionally, the restored recordings are available at The University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History.

“In Black America” began when Jew Don Boney pitched KUT on creating diverse programming for and about the Black community. John L. Hanson Jr. began hosting, “In Black America” in 1980.

“My mantra is to educate and be educated. I want to give not just African-Americans, but the community at large a perspective on the African-American journey, where it’s come from and where it’s going,” said Hanson. “I think everyone should be able to appreciate and understand everyone else if we’re going to live here together. If you don’t understand your history, you have no clue what the future’s going to look like.”

On the future of the show, Hanson says “With the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in the African American community, ‘In Black America’ will focus on how these two events are affecting the African American community and what national, state and local officials, along with business leaders, are doing to address the issues.”

“In Black America” airs at 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays on home station KUT 90.5. It airs on 12 stations across the country and is available as a podcast.

About KUT 90.5 Austin’s NPR Station
KUT 90.5, Austin's NPR station, delivers in-depth stories by and about people in Austin – for Austin – with the highest journalistic standards from a variety of thoughtful perspectives. A founding member of NPR, KUT News has won hundreds of state, national and international awards for journalistic excellence.

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Note to editors: Read a Q&A with “In Black America” Host John L. Hanson Jr.

Media contact: Erin Geisler