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Strange Fruit: Heroes of Black History

It's Black History Month, and we're kicking things off with a show about some of our favorite figures in black history — especially those in the LGBT community.

Our guests this week are making a space in Louisville for teaching and learning about black history (among other things). Director Talesha Wilson and assistant director Tamika Dozier founded and operate a group called Diversity at the Table, which seeks to bridge the gap between formal academic learning and community knowledge.

College classrooms provide a forum for young people to explore new and challenging ideas, and Wilson wanted to give that experience to people who aren't pursuing a formal education.

"Instead, you can learn through interactive activities," she said. "So I started Diversity at the Table to have those conversations about intersectionality, gender, race, class, and sexuality … things that we go through on a regular basis."

She's seen the program's popularity grow.

"After a while, I started realizing that this was a space for people to actually heal," she said.

Wilson and Dozier joined us to talk about Diversity at the Table, and stuck around to talk about the folks they admire in black history. Wilson said she admires Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. Her act of civil disobedience was months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, but Colvin wasn't seen as a suitable "face" of the movement because she was a teenage mother.

We also sing the praises of beauty entrepreneur Annie Turnbo Malone, Marsha P. Johnson of the Stonewall uprising, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lord, James Baldwin and current newsmaker Jaden Smith.

"I love how he does not let society's idea of what masculinity is supposed to be define how he carries and behaves himself," Dozier said.

She also said her school taught students about notable black people who are related to struggles — abolitionists, Civil Rights leaders — but not necessarily those who just accomplished or invented great things.

Wilson agreed.

"I learned about Harriet Tubman, I learned about Malcolm X, and I learned about Martin Luther King," she said, but a message seemed clear: "Be more like Martin and less like Malcolm."

Stay with us throughout February for more heroes from black history, and let us know which figures you look up to.

Diversity at the Table meets at 7 p.m. on Mondays at 810 Barrett Ave.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.