On Wednesday, Oct. 19th at the RiverCenter in Davenport at 6 p.m., WVIK’s “Intelligent Conversations” will welcome the Peabody Award-winning journalist and longtime “All Things Considered” host. Norris, 61, will deliver a keynote address followed by a 7 p.m. question-and-answer session moderated by LaDrina Wilson.
Norris is founder of The Race Card Project, and executive director of The Bridge, The Aspen Institute’s new program on race, identity, connectivity, and inclusion. For more than a decade (until 2012). Norris served as a host of NPR’s All Things Considered, where she interviewed world leaders, American presidents, Nobel laureates, leading thinkers, and groundbreaking artists.
She has also produced in-depth profiles, interviews, and series for NPR News programs, as well as special reports for National Geographic, Time Magazine, ABC News, and Lifetime Television. Norris created The Race Card Project, an initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America, after the 2010 publication of her family memoir, The Grace of Silence.
Norris has written that in “Grace of Silence,” “I set out to write a book exploring America’s hidden conversation about race but changed course when I started listening intently to the hidden conversations in my own family.”
The WVIK (the QC NPR station) event was originally scheduled for March 26, 2020 and was postponed several times due to COVID.
When WVIK first moved its event, the public radio station took the opportunity to launch “Hidden Conversations,” a series of online conversations about Black life in the QC led by leadership and diversity expert LaDrina Wilson of IMAN Consulting, now CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber.
The “Hidden Conversations” were planned to culminate with a 2021 Power of Words event featuring Michele Norris on March 11, 2021, later postponed again. These online conversations are themed around Norris’ book “The Grace of Silence,” a personal memoir discussing the stories hidden within her own family that she only began to discover as an adult.
Hidden family secrets
In her first 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, according to the author’s website.
Before joining NPR in 2002, Norris spent almost 10 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.
In 2009, she was named “Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists. 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. She was named one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Black Americans in 2009; elected to Ebony Magazine’s Power 150 list in 2009; and honored with Ebony’s 8th Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications Award, in 2007.
Norris also earned both an Emmy 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 also a frequent guest on Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show on NBC.
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.
On Oct. 19 at the RiverCenter (136 E. 3rd St., Davenport), doors open at 5 p.m. Appetizers, desserts, coffee, and cash bar will be available. General admission is $40; admission with student ID is $20, and a reserved table of eight is $280.