Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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Pop Culture
5:19 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

MAC Cosmetics To Launch Makeup Line Inspired By Tejano Star Selena

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 7:55 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Code Switch
2:15 pm
Mon July 13, 2015

A Tribute To John Williams, The Man Who Wrote 'I Am'

John A. Williams, a renowned poet and novelist, died July 3. He was 89.
University of Rochester River Campus Libraries

Originally published on Mon July 13, 2015 10:14 pm

John A. Williams might be one of the most prolific writers most people have never heard of.

Although he was often compared to Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Williams didn't much like that. He felt that when black writers were lumped together by the literary establishment, only one at a time would be allowed to succeed. His novels, which were always focused through the prism of race and were told from his black characters' point of view, were well-reviewed. But Williams never reached the level of fame of writers like Wright, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

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Media
5:01 am
Wed July 8, 2015

'Los Angeles Times' Recognizes Black Twitter's Relevance

Originally published on Wed July 8, 2015 2:28 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Race
4:30 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

African-Americans Question Comparing Gay Rights Movement To Civil Rights

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 6:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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U.S.
5:56 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

In The Aftermath Of Charleston, Many Whites Ask What They Can Do To Fight Racism

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 12:59 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

And in the aftermath of those shootings in Charleston, many white Americans are wondering how they can fight racism. Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR's code-switch team reports on some suggestions.

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Race
7:57 am
Sun June 21, 2015

The Long History Of Brutality Against Blacks At Worship

Originally published on Sun June 21, 2015 3:48 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Sun June 21, 2015

'Project Fatherhood': In A Struggling Neighborhood, Dads Are Helping Dads

A group of dads from Project Fatherhood join author Jorja Leap to celebrate the publication of her book, Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America's Toughest Communities.
Todd Cheney Courtesy of UCLA Photography

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:39 pm

It's early evening and several men are making their way, alone or in twos or threes, to the community room at the Jordan Downs public housing complex. This building looks like everything else here: squat, rectangular, painted boring, government-regulation beige. But what's going on inside is pretty exciting.

It's Wednesday night, and Project Fatherhood is in session.

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Around the Nation
5:08 am
Thu June 18, 2015

Project Fatherhood: Dads Confront Challenges In Tough LA Neighborhood

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 8:05 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Law
5:03 am
Fri June 12, 2015

Loving Day Commemorates When Interracial Marriages Became Legal

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 7:30 am

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Race
5:09 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Players' Costs May Be A Factor In Why Tennis Leads Golf In Diversity

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 7:32 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Code Switch
7:56 am
Sun May 3, 2015

Stars Of TLC's 'Curvy Brides': All Curves Are Beautiful

Bride Jennifer Uniglicht tries on a gown at Curvaceous Couture, a bridal boutique specializing in plus-size designer gowns. Proprietors Yukia Walker and Yuneisia Harris (right) star in the new TLC show, Curvy Brides.
TLC

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 9:57 am

Yukia Harris Walker remembers the thrill of getting engaged, but the luster on that glow dimmed when she visited bridal salons and realized there weren't many dresses that would fit her. Walker was a size 14 at the time — as are a lot of American women — but there were no high end gowns for her to try, and the stores had to make-do.

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Code Switch
3:37 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Is It An 'Uprising' Or A 'Riot'? Depends On Who's Watching

What do you see in this image? An "uprising" or a "riot"?
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 11:08 am

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Code Switch
5:34 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

A History Of Beef Between Black Writers, Artists, and Intellectuals

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, left, escorts Dr. Cornel West across the stage during a symposium at Sharon Baptist Church, in Philadelphia, Pa, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2002.
Brian Branch-Price AP

Over the weekend, The New Republic posted a 10,000-word essay by black academic and author Michael Eric Dyson that's created quite a buzz within a certain segment of black America.

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Code Switch
3:13 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Trevor Noah Is A Quarter Jewish. Does That Make His Anti-Semitic Jokes OK?

Trevor Noah at a Comedy Central event in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2012.
Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images Getty Images

Editor's note: This post contains words and sentiments you might find deeply offensive.

The glow had barely dimmed on Comedy Central's unveiling of comedian Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show when Noah's Twitter past came under fire. His critics have called some of his old tweets offensive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and — the charge that seems to be getting the most attention — anti-Semitic.

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Code Switch
7:31 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

From Selma To Eisenhower, Trailblazing Black Reporter Was Always Probing

Ms. Payne interviewing a soldier from Chesapeake, Va., in Vietnam in 1967.
Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center/Harper Collins

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 9:39 am

When Ethel Payne stood to ask President Dwight Eisenhower a question at a White House press conference in July 1954, women and African-Americans were rarities in the press corps. Payne was both, and wrote for The Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper that in the 40s and 50s, was read in black American households the way The New York Times was in white ones.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Reverend Willie T. Barrow, A 'Little Warrior' For Civil Rights, Dies

Rev. Willie Barrow, a 'superdelegate,' attending the opening night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The long-time activist, who was a mentor to President Obama, died on Thursday.
Melanie Stetson Freeman Christian Science Monitor/Getty

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 5:01 pm

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Code Switch
3:03 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

North Carolina Looking Into 'Black Tax' At Charlotte's Ritz-Carlton

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper in 2010.
Jim R. Bounds AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:30 pm

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has directed his Department of Consumer Affairs to look into reports that some African-American customers at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte were recently subjected to unwarranted fees.

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NPR Ed
5:10 am
Thu March 12, 2015

A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation

Anna Julia Cooper was the fourth African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a doctoral degree.
Scurlock Studios Smithsonian

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 1:15 pm

Some great teachers change the life of a student, maybe several. Anna Julia Cooper changed America.

Cooper was one of the first black women in the country to earn a Ph.D. Before that, she headed the first public high school for black students in the District of Columbia — Washington Colored High School. It later became known as the M Street School and was eventually renamed for poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dunbar was a citadel of learning in segregated Washington, a center for rigorous study and no-holds-barred achievement. Its graduates over the years include:

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Code Switch
3:08 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Claude Sitton, 'Dean Of The Race Beat,' Dies At 89

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 5:56 pm

It may be that Claude Fox Sitton so outraged the white Southern segregationists he reported on throughout the civil rights movement because, by all appearances, he could have been standing beside them instead of writing about them in the New York Times.

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Code Switch
3:56 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

A 'Black Tax' At Charlotte's Ritz-Carlton?

A photo of a table tent at the lobby bar of the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte during CIAA week.
Courtesy Patrice Wright

A Charlotte news station reported on Monday that the Ritz-Carlton, one of prosperous uptown Charlotte's swankiest hotels, added what looks suspiciously like a black tax to the lobby bar tabs of patrons in town last week for the CIAA, the popular mega-tournament for basketball teams at historically black colleges and universities from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

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