WNYC Studios’ Kai Wright Hosts National Juneteenth Special in Collaboration With Local Texas Public Radio Stations
Live call-in edition of Wright’s program “The United States of Anxiety” centers voices of Black Texans to commemorate Juneteenth’s origins
WNYC to partner with Houston Public Media, KERA-Dallas and Texas Public Radio to distribute special to over 60 public radio stations
(June 15, 2022) – In 2021, Congress established Juneteenth as a federal holiday amid heightened conversations around racial justice and a growing awareness of the day’s existence. But the holiday is a long-standing celebration created by and for Black Texans to mark the day, two years after enslaved people were declared free in 1863, that they learned of their liberation.
On Sunday, June 19 at 6pm ET, Wright’s program, The United States of Anxiety, will take listeners back to where Juneteenth began with a national call-in special that centers the voices and perspectives of Black Texans. Convened in partnership with Houston Public Media, KERA-Dallas and Texas Public Radio, Wright will talk to Texans about their Juneteenth celebrations, explore its local history and evolution, and ask callers for their perspectives on seeing a Texas tradition become a national holiday. Has that evolution deepened the national conversation about our country’s history with racism or merely turned a local tradition into a national token?
Guests will include Opal Lee, the former teacher who spent years campaigning for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon Reed, whose book On Juneteenth tells the backstory of the holiday; and Nicole Taylor, who recently published the first Juneteenth cookbook: Watermelon and Red Birds. During the show, Houston Public Radio will offer live reports from Emancipation Park, where Black Houston has been celebrating the holiday since 1872.
“This is going to be a celebration of joy, progress, and incredible Black culture – at a moment when we desperately need all of those things,” said host Kai Wright. “We describe The United States of Anxiety as a show about the unfinished business of our history, and its grip on our future. As a Black queer man, that means often stepping into emotionally challenging conversations. In this special, I get to step into a party, and learn from our listeners all over the country. It’ll be a good time.”
The United States of Anxiety National Juneteenth Call-in Special will air live at 6pm ET on Sunday, June 19 on over 60 public radio stations across the country. The podcast version will be available on Monday, June 20 at wnycstudios.org/podcasts/anxiety or wherever you get your podcasts.
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