StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay on His Top 5 Holiday Tales

These stories of heroism and hope are not to be missed.

The recent success of Serial, Sarah Koenig’s epic, true-crime podcast that kept millions riveted to their iPods this past year, has demonstrated a real hunger in our culture for compelling, and often difficult, stories. Whether it was criminal activity in the NSA, as revealed by Laura Pointras in Citizenfour, or the hidden artistry of a reclusive street photographer in Finding Vivian Maier, we can give thanks this holiday season for the poignant, thoughtful and groundbreaking narratives that drove 2014. One important figure helping to further this art form is StoryCorps founder and this year’s TED Prize winner Dave Isay who, in the great American folk tradition of grand storytelling, has spent the last decade collecting some of our nation’s most haunting and heartfelt moments. As Isay mentioned to us after receiving his TEDprize, “Listening is such an important way of letting other people know that their lives matter. In many ways, listening is the ultimate act of generosity to another human being.” In keeping with this spirit, Isay recently filled us in on his top 5 holiday StoryCorps narratives, plucked from the vast collection housed in the Library of Congress, and why he found them so compelling.

1. Yelitza Castro and Willie Davis share a unique family meal\n

“You remember the first dinner together?”

“An undocumented worker in North Carolina makes dinner for homeless men and changes their lives—a remarkable story of decency and kindness that all started one Christmas Eve.”

(Hear the full story.)

2. Kerry Johnson interviews his mother Carrie Conley on raising six children\n

“How did you get by?”

“A single mom from Detroit who worked long hours in a local hospital delivering food trays to patients, while raising six kids, is interviewed and honored by her son, a doctor. Much of the conversation revolves around their memories of Christmas. Carrie Conley represents this country at its best— a true American hero.”

(Hear the full story.)

3. The Road Home\n

“In this animation, a homeless man in Chapel Hill, North Carolina named Eddie Lanier is befriended by a passerby, David Wright, who brings him home to his family for Thanksgiving dinner. It turns our Eddie's father was once mayor of Chapel Hill. Eddie Lanier died last month—David Wright was with him when he passed away. This conversation between two remarkable men reminds us all of the poetry, grace and beauty in the stories we can find all around us when we take the time to listen to one another.”

(Hear the full story.)

"The Road Home" is part of StoryCorps' first-ever half-hour animated special, Listening Is an Act of Love, which premiered November 28, 2013 on the PBS documentary series, POV.

4. Miguel Alvarez and Maurice Rowland, unlikely guardian angels\n

“If we left, they wouldn't have nobody.”

“A story we broadcast just a couple of weeks ago: a janitor and a cook at an assisted living home spend three days and nights with elderly residents after the company that managed the home suddenly shut it down. Reminds us about what's really important.”

(Hear the full story.)

Note: The incident led to legislation in California known as the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014.

5. Julio Diaz, robbed on a subway platform in the Bronx, changes a life\n

“As he's walking away, I'm like, 'Hey, you forgot something...'”

“Julio Diaz is mugged by a kid on a subway platform. As the mugger walks away, Julio offers him his coat and then buys him a meal. The story seems to go viral every holiday season, so I'm abiding by the wisdom of the crowd.”

(Hear the full story.)

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

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via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

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"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.