NPR Host Michele Norris Speaks at SUNY Potsdam Wednesday


NPR host Michele Norris, the author of “The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir,” will speak at SUNY Potsdam on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music.

National Public Radio host Michele Norris, one of the most respected voices in American journalism, will visit SUNY Potsdam for a public discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at the College’s Crane School of Music.

Norris, the author of “The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir,” will speak to more than 600 freshmen who read her book as part of SUNY Potsdam’s nationally recognized First-Year Success Seminars.

“The Grace of Silence” is a profoundly moving and deeply personal memoir by the co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.” While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding throughout America in the wake of President Obama’s election, Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld.

These revelations—from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest—inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South.

Toni Morrison called Norris’ book “an insightful, elegant rendering of how the history of an American family illuminates the history of our country.”

The discussion is free, and the public is invited to attend. Following the presentation, there will be a book signing in the Hosmer Hall lobby. Norris’ book is available for sale at the College Bookstore, located in the Barrington Student Union, as well as other local booksellers.

To find out more about the First-Year Experience at SUNY Potsdam, visit

About the speaker:

In her role as host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Norris informs, engages and enlightens listeners with thoughtful interviews and in-depth reporting. She is known for her approachable interviewing style that is both relaxed and rigorous. An award-winning journalist, Norris has interviewed world leaders, Nobel laureates, Oscar winners, American presidents, military leaders, influential newsmakers and even astronauts traveling in outer space.

From a two-part roundtable discussion with a group of parents about the challenges they faced with childcare to a series looking into what it means to be all-American in this country's increasing multiculturalism, Norris reports on the issues that affect people, from working parents to career politicians, in small communities and large cities all across the country. Norris teamed up with NPR “Morning Edition” Host Steve Inskeep for a series of conversations with voters in York, Penn., about race and its role in the 2008 presidential election.

In addition to this deep reporting, Norris regularly interviews newsmakers, from politicians to prominent individuals such as Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC), Paul Ryan (R-WI) and First Lady Michelle Obama.

For the year leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Norris has recused herself from hosting duties while her husband takes a position as a senior advisor on the Obama campaign. During this time she is focusing on producing signature segments and features including the ATC series, the Back Seat Book Club and working on new reporting projects including the Race Card project.

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.

Norris has received numerous awards for her work. In 2009, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. The 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 Inskeep an Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcasting.

A four-time Pulitzer Prize entrant, 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.”

In 2009, Norris was named one of Essence magazine’s 25 Most Influential Black Americans and elected to Ebony magazine’s Power 150 List. She was honored with Ebony’s Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications Award in 2007.

Norris earned both an Emmy Award 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 a frequent guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and MSNBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show.”

In 2010, Norris' book, “The Grace of Silence: A Memoir” was published. In the 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.

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.

For more information about Michele Norris, visit

To keep track of the many free events that SUNY Potsdam opens to the community each year, visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.