Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Weekdays 3-4 pm, Tues-Thurs 8-9 pm

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

Since they were founded in the 1930s by the American Legion, the Boys State and Girls State programs have been giving high schoolers a practical education in how government works. Students in every state are chosen to take part in a week-long summer experiment in which they must form their own representative democracy. As we learn from the opening credits of the terrific new documentary Boys State, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Cory Booker are just a few of the program's famous alums.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are frequently seen as opposing forces in the struggle for civil rights and against white supremacy; King is often portrayed as a nonviolent insider, while Malcolm X is characterized as a by-any-means-necessary political renegade. But author and Black Power scholar Peniel Joseph says the truth is more nuanced.

"I've always been fascinated by Malcolm X and Dr. King ... and dissatisfied in how they're usually portrayed — both in books and in popular culture," Joseph says.

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Veteran political consultant Stuart Stevens has spent years working as a strategist for Republican campaigns, including the presidential bids of Bob Dole, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. But Stevens didn't support the party's candidate in the 2016 presidential election — and he wasn't alone.

"In 2016, when I went out and attacked Trump on television," he says, "I would say maybe a third of the party hierarchy would email me and thank me for doing this."

The Old Guard filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood always loved action movies — she just never thought she'd have a chance to make one.

"Those doors were not open at all to women," she says. "It's so hard for women to get into the room, because we don't have action on a resumé. But how do you get action on your resumé if you're not hired to do films with action?"

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Baseball is back, for now at least. And many major league teams this year are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, which gave African Americans a place to showcase their talents before the game was integrated.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Today, we're going into our archive to remember journalist Pete Hamill. He died yesterday at age 85 from complications following emergency surgery after falling and breaking a hip. Hamill was described in The New York Times as the quintessential New York journalist. Times columnist Dan Barry once wrote, if the pavement of New York City could talk, it would sound like Pete Hamill.

Six months after the conclusion of President Trump's impeachment, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin says special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was fundamentally flawed.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a "caste" system.

Wilkerson describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources.

"Caste focuses in on the infrastructure of our divisions and the rankings, whereas race is the metric that's used to determine one's place in that," she says.

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Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

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Growing up in Texas and Mississippi, author Robert P. Jones was a very active member of his Southern Baptist Convention church. Between youth group, Bible studies and prayer services, he spent about 6-7 hours each week at church or doing church related things.

But in all that time, he never really heard about the church's history — including the fact that Southern Baptists split from the North around 1844 because the Northern Baptists opposed slavery.

Let's cut to the chase: I have two novels to recommend. They have nothing in common apart from the fact that, at first glance, they're easy to underestimate.

The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die is a short 1993 novel by the Benagali writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Dubbed a modern Bengali classic, it's just been published for the first time in the United States.

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Thirty-five years ago, Natasha Trethewey's stepfather shot and killed her mother outside of her home in a suburb of Atlanta.

Trethewey's stepfather was sentenced to life in prison, and Trethewey, who was 19 at the time, spent years trying to forget what had happened.

"It was just a life I wanted to leave behind," she says. "I wanted to forge a new life for myself that didn't include that past, but, of course, that was impossible."

One of the first jokes comic Mike Birbiglia ever told on stage was about remaining childless. He'd say: "I'm not going to have kids until I'm sure that nothing else good can happen in my life."

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Given how much time some of us are spending at home these days, there might be something a little perverse about watching a movie that takes place in a haunted house. That's especially true of two terrific thrillers, Amulet and Relic, in which the characters' living spaces are infected with dark spirits and become inescapable prisons.

Donald Trump's estranged niece, Mary Trump, has long been uncomfortable with her last name.

"It's not a very common name," she said in an interview with Fresh Air on Tuesday. "If I paid with a credit card, I invariably got asked if I was related [to Donald]. And I always said no."

Before her uncle entered politics, that's usually where the conversation ended. But Donald Trump's political career changed things. "It was a bit of a shock, you know, to hear my name being mentioned dozens of times a day," Mary Trump said.

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