Journalist, Producer & Photographer
Selected works of journalism — radio production and writing

Georgia Public Broadcasting

Credit: Alex Harris

Roundtable Discussion Unpacks Realities — And New Definitions — Of Beauty In The Black Community

A Nielsen report from 2018 shows that black women and men spend disproportionately more on beauty products than other demographic groups. And with Hair Love winning best animated short at this year’s Oscars, the conversation around black hair — and standards of beauty within the black community — continues to evolve.

While the mainstream hair and beauty industry has not always been there to meet demand, black innovators and entrepreneurs have frequently taken it upon themselves to develop their own solutions. On Second Thought sat down with three people working to bring both awareness and new offerings to the cultural conversation on beauty standards in the black community.

Political Rewind: Clint Smith's Journey Into The History And Narratives Of Slavery In The U.S.

Winston Churchill is credited as saying that “History is written by the victors.” Or, in other words, the history we consume is not necessarily based in fact, but rather the interpretations and perspectives of those who hold power. Now, when it comes to the U.S. Civil War, history shows us that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

Yet it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “The south won the Civil War” – not in fact, but in a battle of culture, memory and writing history. The abolition of slavery did not stop the racial terror that emerged in postwar United States, and the narrative of the Confederate cause did not surrender alongside General Lee.

Today, we can see how that is reflected in the histories we teach to our children and in how we contextualize the physical landmarks and monuments that represent the country’s past – both in ways that are honest, and ways that are not.

Clint Smith’s new book, How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, takes readers on a tour of these monuments, memorials, and landmarks to offer a contemporary portrait of how slavery – and slave-owning – have shaped our nation’s collective history.

Credit: Carletta Girma

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Brett

Beloved Atlanta Mailman 'Mr. Floyd': A Life of Service and Activism

Neighbors are still missing their newly retired mailman.

Floyd Martin was a beloved mail carrier who worked the same route in Marietta for nearly 35 years. So beloved, in fact, that when he retired a few weeks ago, the community he served so well started a GoFundMe page to send him to Hawaii. Delta Air Lines pitched in too — providing airfare.

Known as "Mister Floyd" to his Marietta residents, Floyd Martin joined On Second Thought in the studio to reflect on his life and career with the postal service.

Amid Movement For Racial Justice, The Need For Rebellious Art — And Uncomfortable Conversations

Today, in celebration of Juneteenth, Power Haus Creative has organized what they’re calling the “Juneteenth Takeover” – in which 19 Atlanta artists will display their work on the exterior of the historic Flatiron building in downtown Atlanta.

Carlton Mackey and Melissa Alexander are two of those artists. They joined On Second Thought to share how they are approaching the expanse of art, representation and symbolism at this pivotal time of reckoning with racial inequality and violence.

Credit: Melissa Alexander / Phyllis Iller
Credit: Photo by Spider Martin / Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Activism, Voting Rights, And 'Good Trouble': New Film Highlights Legacy Of Congressman John Lewis

While historic battles for civil rights took place decades ago, the fight for racial justice is erupting on the streets with a new urgency and, as a new film about the legendary activist and congressman shows, the 80-year-old John Lewis is not backing down. 

The new documentary from Magnolia Pictures is called John Lewis: Good Trouble. It goes beyond the highlights reel of his storied life and reveals more personal elements of the man and the figure. Director and producer Dawn Porter and producer Erika Alexander joined On Second Thought to share how the film connects his legacy of seeking justice from his youth to his role as a revered congressman today.

Do Businesses Show Their True Colors During LGBTQ Pride Month?

President Bill Clinton declared June as “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in 2000. The designation commemorated the Stonewall Riots in Lower Manhattan in June of 1969. Nine years later, President Barack Obama included bisexual and transgender people — the “B” and “T” of LGBT.

Nowadays, rainbow flags are in front yards, tourism posters, along with sponsorship banners and ad campaigns. With brands like Campbell’s Soup, Apple, and Taylor Swift feeling comfortable aligning themselves with Pride, On Second Thought sat down with Georgian members of the LGBTQ community for a conversation about the history of Pride and how corporate commodification has changed the event over time.

Credit: Stavrialena Gontzou

  Credit: Collage by Emilia Brock

Coronavirus Goes Viral: How Online Meme Culture Reflects Our Shared Experience Of A Global Pandemic

Social distancing has become the new normal. With borders closing, shelter-in-place orders in California, lockdowns in Europe, and the Trump administration's guidelines to limit gatherings, millions of Americans are shuttering indoors — and spending a lot of time in front of a screen.

And the memes have flourished. So what does online meme culture reveal about how we're processing anxiety over this unprecedented pandemic in a digital world?

Chef Lisa Donovan On The Pain, Progress and 'Perpetual Hunger' Of Life In And Out Of Kitchen Culture

In 2017, the #MeToo movement was exploding across industries. In an essay for Food & Wine, Lisa Donovan went head-on at the treatment of women in the culinary world.

“I refuse to be afraid to say these things out loud any longer, even though it feels terrifying,” wrote the celebrated Nashville-based pastry chef.

That essay, called “Dear Women: Own Your Stories,” won a James Beard Award. Now, Donovan fulfills that imperative herself in a new memoir, called Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger. The book follows her life in and out of kitchens, and the restaurant industry she loved – and later left. It’s a fiery, impassioned and sometimes painful story of a Southern chef who cares more about food than fame.

Credit: Jared Buckheister / Cover Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Credit: Andy Whale / Cover Courtesy of Faber & Faber

Musician And Author Billy Bragg Says Free Speech Depends On Accountability, Music On Empathy

Billy Bragg is many things: a poet, punk rocker, folk musician, and singer-songwriter. He’s also an activist, music historian, and best-selling author. In the words of another poet, he contains multitudes.

Bragg’s newest work, The Three Dimensions of Freedom, is a slim volume that makes a weighty argument. It’s a pamphlet in the tradition of Thomas Paine, whose influential polemics helped spark the American Revolution, and later got him convicted of sedition. This new polemic from Bragg takes a match to a contemporary powder keg – free speech – and advocates for more accountability in the public realm.

John Lewis On The Redemption Of The South

Since the death of John Lewis on July 17, tributes, photographs and stories of the longtime congressman have proliferated across media.  “Celebration of Life” events for the beloved civil rights leader – who was born a sharecropper’s son and became known as the “Conscience of The Congress” – will take place for six days beginning on Saturday.

Last Sunday, a crowd of mourners holding candles lined John Lewis Freedom Parkway in Atlanta and marched through the district Lewis represented for more than three decades, ending beneath an enormous mural of the man, whose moral character loomed large over the U.S. House of Representatives and the nation.

Credit: NPR

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Beyond The Bench: Former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears On A Life Of Breaking Barriers

Behind the bench in Georgia's Supreme Court, there is an inscription on the wall. It reads "Fiat justitia ruat caelum". It's Latin for "Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall." While Georgia was one of the last states at the time to establish its high court — in 1846 — there have been many firsts since.

That includes electing the first African-American woman as a Chief Justice, anywhere in the country, in 2005. The Honorable Leah Ward Sears broke a number of other precedents in her climb to the state's highest judicial title, and did not stop there. The now-retired Chief Justice joined On Second Thought to reflect on why she pursued a career in the law, the steep climb from lawyer to judge to the Georgia Supreme Court, and life after stepping down from the bench.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu Brings His Political Humor to Georgia Stages

Hari Kondabolu is a comedian, writer and podcaster based in Brooklyn, New York. He has performed on "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Conan," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and more. He's a regular guest on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," and he released his first Netflix comedy special, called "Warn Your Relatives," last year.

In that stand-up special, Kondabolu jokes about serious topics like politics, religion, racial prejudice and white guilt, which, he says, means his comedy may not be for everybody. He joined On Second Thought to talk about touring with his political material, the importance of diversity in comedy and the difference between being funny for a private and public audience.

Credit: Yoon Kim

Credit: Courtesy of Dad’s Garage

For Comedian And Actor Scott Adsit, There Are No Mistakes In Improv

Comedian and actor Scott Adsit has been on everything from Friends to The Office, but you may know him best as Pete Hornberger from the sitcom 30 Rock. Or perhaps as the voice of Baymax from Big Hero 6.

This weekend, he's in Georgia. Adsit is doing a two-night, four-show run at Dad's Garage in Atlanta. First, he stopped by On Second Thought to share stories about how improv influenced his acting career, why he never really got into stand-up comedy, and his connection to the Marvel Universe.

'The Talk' Is A Rite Of Passage In Black Families. Even When The Parent Is A Police Officer.

For generations, “The Talk” has been a mainstay in African American families. At some point, Black children all get warnings from elders about how to avoid – and survive – police encounters.

It’s a rite that cuts across region, socioeconomic status and profession – even for members of law enforcement.

On Second Thought spoke with four men about how they remember “The Talk,” and how they’ve navigated passing those lessons along to the next generation.

Credit: Photo collage by Pria Mahadevan

Credit: AP Photo/John Locher

How Artificial Intelligence Reflects Human Biases - And How It Can Improve

Whether you're searching something on Google, assessing a mortgage rate, or applying for a job, much of our lives today is informed by artificial intelligence. Or, the less scary term: intelligent algorithms. While AI helps systems operate quickly, it's not perfect. Like humans, these technologies are only as good as the information they get.

Dr. Ayanna Howard is chair of the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. She joined On Second Thought to talk about how technology often reflects our own biases, the dangers of employing and blindly believing imperfect AI systems, and how these algorithmic biases can be improved.

With The Resurgence of Protest Culture, Two Design Behemoths On 'The Design of Dissent'

As 2019 drew to a close, protests spilled into cities from Hong Kong to Santiago, Paris to Tehran, and Khartoum to La Paz. People around the world flocked to the streets, often with handmade signs, addressing their objections to policy changes, power grabs and cutbacks.

The power of images to communicate disagreement is the subject of an exhibition now on view at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA). "The Design of Dissent" is based on a book of the same title, co-authored by two of the most prominent names in the world of design. Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic joined On Second Thought to talk about the book and exhibition, and the impact of design in the arena of dissent. 

Credit: Photo of Milton Glaser by Michael Somoroff / Photo of Mirko Ilic by Robert Gojevic

Credit: Courtesy of MARTA

Amid Proposed MARTA Name Changes, A Look At The History And Cultural Importance Of 'Bankhead'

This past summer, MARTA was considering renaming five train stations in Atlanta. It was an effort to keep up with changes in the city and to reflect surrounding neighborhoods.

Today, MARTA says no decision on renaming stations has been made, but that they are currently refining the process of making those decisions in the future.

One station proposed to be re-christened: Bankhead. The area was named after the highway that ran through it, which was in turn named after an Alabama family. But the Bankhead name is perhaps more closely associated with the torrent of rap and hip hop that grew from Atlanta's Westside and nearby neighborhoods. So, what's in the name "Bankhead"?

Political Rewind: Author Jonathan Alter On The Sweeping Legacy Of President Jimmy Carter

Political analyst and writer Jonathan Alter is out with a new and comprehensive biography of former president Jimmy Carter. It’s called His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life. The narrative spans Carter’s childhood growing up in Georgia to his roles as the state’s governor and U.S. President, and beyond.

Alter joined Political Rewind to talk about the new book, sharing a historical and political perspective, as well as some lesser-known stories about the legendary peanut farmer-turned-president.

Credit: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

Credit: Associate Press

How Hollywood Tackled Fascism In Film To Build American Support For WWII

Hollywood's Golden Age and the rise of fascism in Europe were happening at the same time, a world apart. Those worlds collided when Hollywood decided to tackle fascism in film.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. opened the exhibit Americans and the Holocaust last year. Now, a traveling event focuses on how depictions of the Nazi agenda influenced American audiences, and why we fought. The event, called What Were We Watching? Americans Response to Nazism Through Cinema, Radio and Media, takes place Tuesday night at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

From Sammy Davis Jr. To Toomer's Oaks, Mo Rocca Gives New Life To Forgotten Stories In 'Mobituaries'

Mo Rocca follows the world of the living as correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, panelist for Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and host of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation.

His other beat is the departed. He is host of the Mobituaries podcast, now in its second season. In it, Rocca tells stories of people and things that have passed through this earthly plain with too little notice, and uncovers little known facets of iconic figures who did get a lot of ink.

His new book, Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, pulls together and expands upon "Mobits" of disappeared sitcom characters, forgotten forerunners, ran politicians and extinct artifacts. He joined On Second Thought to tell stories of some of the lively characters — real and fictional — that color the pages of his book.

Credit: John Paul Filo/CBS


'Race Against Time': Journalist Jerry Mitchell Brings Justice To Unsolved Civil Rights Era Cases
Consumer Boycotts: Does Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Actually Matter?
Comedian Judah Friedlander Pokes Fun At American Exceptionalism With New Show, 'Future President'
Center For Civil And Human Rights Opens Exhibit For King Holiday
Copyright Emilia Brock 2022