11 Podcasts That Celebrate Black Excellence
For your listening pleasure during Black History Month *and* every month.
Black culture is American culture. Sadly, though, most of us aren't taught about the magnificence of Black history. While online courses or workshops can fill in the gaps of what you might not know, consider adding these 11 Black podcasts to your gotta-listen-to-it playlist. These podcasts explore some of the extraordinary achievements of inspiring Black people in every walk of life, inspiring listeners of all races and backgrounds—so put on your headphones and start listening ASAP.
With a tagline of "Race. In Your Face," Code Switch brings to light the inescapable conversations about race. From their website, writer Gene Demby explains, "We're looking at code-switching a little more broadly. Many of us subtly and reflexively change the way we express ourselves all the time. We're hop-scotching between different cultural and linguistic spaces and different parts of our own identities—sometimes within a single interaction."
Episode to start with: "The Queen Of Black Historical Romance Talks Race, Love And History"
Black History Buff
Black History Buff tells the stories of Black historical figures from around the world. Kur Lewis, the show's founder, developed the podcast as a way of introducing tough issues like slavery to his son. With each episode clocking in at a slim 10-20 minutes, Black History Buff is a quick but entertaining way for audiences to learn about Black culture around the world.
Episode to start with: "The Legend of Bill Richmond - The First Black Sports Star"
The Nod presents the narratives of Black culture that you won't find anywhere else, like an account of how purple drink became associated with Black cultures. The podcast seeks to celebrate the brightness, creativity, and resilience that is unique to being Black in America.
Episode to start with: "I Want That Purple Stuff"
Black History Year
Black History Year provides interviews with experts, history, storytelling, and culture analysis. The series, produced by PushBlack, the nation's largest non-profit Black media company, believes learning our history makes us all stronger.
Episode to start with: "Decoding the Racism in Advertising and Entertainment with Professor Gene Shelton"
Everyday Black History: Afro Appreciation
Everyday Black History: Afro Appreciation celebrates the contributions of Black men and women, both historical and modern-day.
Episode to start with: "Sam Cornish/John Russwurm- two of the founders of the first Black newspaper, Freedoms Journal"
In Black America
This long-running NPR series is dedicated to all aspects of the Black experience. John L. Hanson, Jr., profiles an eclectic assortment of contemporary and historical Black Americans—from civil rights leaders, educators, artists—to discuss what life is like in America as a Black person.
Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air
Comedian Larry Wilmore talks with guests in the realms of politics, entertainment, culture, and sports on his show Black on the Air to weigh on issues from the past week. Some of his previous guests included Ed Dwight, Walter Mosley, and Fran Lebowitz.
Episode to start with: "Ed Dwight On Becoming The First Black Astronaut That Almost Was"
Black Girl Podcast
This audio series was created by a quintet of friends who met while working at New York's renowned hip-hop radio station Hot 97. These five women share their inspirational and sometimes hilarious discussions about life, Black sisterhood, pop culture, and love.
Episode to start with: "#WAPisKing"
Crossing Fences podcast
Crossing Fences presents itself as an oral history of African-American men in Pittsburgh, as compiled by African-American boys and young men in grades 5 to 12.
Episode to start with: "Carl Truss"
With only nine episodes, this podcast packs a punch in a short time. Featuring guest narrators like Roxane Gay, and Issa Rae, Historically Black from the Washington Post tells the story of Black history through personal objects. Every episode examines the narrative behind a listener-submitted item—sometimes a picture or a bit of jewelry—and creates an auditory exhibit of Black Americana. The podcast was made in collaboration with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, so the focus here is on preserving oral history and cultural experiences.
Episode to start with: "Harlem Through The Lens of James Van Der Zee's Lens"
The podcast explores the value and diversity of Southern Black history. The title of the podcast itself hints at the hosts' knowledge of the subject. The term "Black Belt" previously identified a zone of Alabama renowned for its dark soil, which made the region an area for slave owners to settle. In modern times, more than half of Black Americans reside in the South. Blackbelt Voices aims to bring the Black Southern voice to light, through first-person narratives and in-depth conversations between "Black Southerners living in, loving, and reconciling with the region we call home."
Episode to start with: "Living History: Driving the Green Book"