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Playlist: Legacy

Compiled By: Jud Esty-Kendall

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StoryCorps: Paul Nilsen and Tom Graziano

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:26

Tom Graziano remembers how his son’s elementary school principal and the community responded when they learned that his son was HIV positive.

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In the early 1980s, Tom Graziano and his wife adopted an almost 2-year-old boy named John. As a child, he was constantly sick, but doctors where never able to determine why.

In 1986, when John was in the second grade at Central Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois, his parents discovered the reason for his health problems—John was HIV positive having contracted the disease from his biological mother.

At StoryCorps, Tom sat down with John’s elementary school principal, Paul Nilsen, to discuss the reaction of other students attending the school and among members of their suburban Chicago community to John during the AIDS epidemic in America.

John died in May 1989, just days shy of his 10th birthday.

StoryCorps Legacy: Eva Vega-Olds and Leonardo Vega

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:24

After Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with cancer, his daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, used the StoryCorps app to record her father days before he passed.

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In November 2015, Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer.
 
After multiple unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, he left the hospital and returned to his New Jersey home to spend his remaining days receiving hospice care while surrounded by his family. His eldest daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, decided to use the StoryCorps app to capture some of her father’s memories and preserve the sound of his voice.
 
During their time together, Leonardo was bedridden and hooked up to an oxygen tank. Finding the strength to answer questions was difficult, so Eva also took the opportunity to tell her father how much he has meant to her.
 
This recording turned out to be the last conversation they ever had together. Leonardo died days later on January 29, 2016, at the age of 73. Soon after, Eva came to StoryCorps to remember a hardworking man with a great sense of humor who loved his family.

StoryCorps Griot: Melva Washington Toomer and John Washington

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:34

John Washington, 95, who is blind and deaf, recently recorded a StoryCorps interview with his eldest child, Melva, using a TeleBraille machine.

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John Washington was born blind and with a severe loss of hearing that has become more extreme over time. Just before he turned 30, he met his future wife, Fannie Ruth, who was also blind and deaf. In 1950 they got married, and remained together for 55 years having three children together--Melva, Warren, and Canady--before Fannie Ruth passed away in 2005.
John, who did not finish high school, began reading books in braille “to learn the ways of life,” and went on to teach others to read braille as well. He spent years working as a massage therapist, and in 1952, in what he considers one of his proudest achievements, he helped found the first braille magazine in the United States focused solely on issues important to the African American community—The Negro Braille Magazine.
Now 95 years old, John recently recorded a StoryCorps interview with his eldest child, Melva Washington Toomer, using a TeleBraille machine, a device that requires Melva to type her questions on a keyboard which are then translated to a braille touchpad for her father to read.
At StoryCorps, he shared some of his favorite stories about raising his children, and asked his daughter an important question about what she plans to do with him as he continues to move closer to being 100 years old.
Besides using a TeleBraille machine, John also speaks with others through fingerspelling–a method of communication where words are spelled out directly into his hand by another person using the American Sign Language alphabet.
Originally aired August 19, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps Griot: Gregory Bess and April Gibson

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:10

33-year-old April Gibson talks to her teenage son, Gregory Bess, about how she felt when he was born.

Gibsonasquare_small 33-year-old April Gibson talks to her teenage son, Gregory Bess, about how she felt when he was born.

StoryCorps Griot: Sharon Brangman and Jenna Lester

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:20

Dr. Jenna Lester talks to her mother, Dr. Sharon Brangman, about growing up in a family of black women who have dedicated their lives to medicine.

Brangmansquare_small Dr. Jenna Lester talks to her mother, Dr. Sharon Brangman, about growing up in a family of black women who have dedicated their lives to medicine.

StoryCorps: Joanna Wright and Tara Cummings

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Joanna Wright and her friend Tara Cummings talk about surviving years of abuse at a religious reform school in Louisiana.

Wrightjsquare_small Joanna Wright and her friend Tara Cummings talk about surviving years of abuse at a religious reform school in Louisiana.

StoryCorps: Kay Johnston Massar and Cy Massar

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:42

Kay Johnston Massar tells her husband, Cy Massar, about being the first girl to play Little League baseball.

Massarsquare2_small Kay Johnston Massar tells her husband, Cy Massar, about being the first girl to play Little League baseball.

StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative: Roman Coley Davis and Dan Marek

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:49

Former Army intelligence collector Roman Coley Davis talks about a package he received while stationed in Afghanistan.

Coleydavissquare2_small Former Army intelligence collector Roman Coley Davis talks about a package he received while stationed in Afghanistan.

StoryCorps Griot: Dennis Simmonds and Roxanne Simmonds

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

Roxanne Simmonds and her husband, Dennis, remember their son, police officer D.J. Simmonds, who died due to injuries he sustained confronting the Boston Marathon bombers.

Simmondssquare_small Roxanne Simmonds and her husband, Dennis, remember their son, police officer D.J. Simmonds, who died due to injuries he sustained confronting the Boston Marathon bombers.

StoryCorps Griot:Max Knauer and Kittie Weston-Knauer

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:17

Kittie Weston-Knauer is the oldest female BMX bicycle racer in the United States. It was her son Max who introduced her to the sport more than 30 years ago.

Knauersquare_small Kittie Weston-Knauer is the oldest female BMX bicycle racer in the United States. It was her son Max who introduced her to the sport more than 30 years ago.