Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Producer, Midday

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday hosted by Tom Hall. She joined the WYPR team as a producer of Maryland Morning in March 2016. Before coming to WYPR, she worked for SiriusXM and prior to that, at NPR.  While at NPR, Bridget worked on the 2014 Elections Desk and Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin, where she produced discussions addressing race, gender and pop-culture.  A true lover of conversation, Bridget also hosted and produced a roundtable podcast. Bridget is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, an Historically Black College.

Photo by Craig Schwartz

We turn to the world of theater and the premiere of a new musical at the Everyman Theatre here in Baltimore.  Its subject couldn’t be more timely:  Los Otros or, The Othersdelves into the complexities of immigration, cultural identity, sexuality, and coming of age.

In 2012, a very different version of Los Otros was presented at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.  Vincent Lancisi, the founder and artistic director of the Everyman, commissioned a re-write of the musical after that original production, and then held a workshop in New York so that the writers could make further revisions, which continued as the rehearsal process for the Everyman production got underway.

The man who composed Los Otros' beautiful music and the woman who wrote the lyrics and book join Tom in Studio A.  Composer Michael John LaChiusa is a five-time Tony Award nominee for work on and off-Broadway.  He’s won, among other awards, an Obie, a Dramatists Guild Award, and Daytime Emmys.  Ellen Fitzhugh has received Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk award nominations, and written lyrics with numerous film score composers, including the renowned Henry Mancini.

If Republicans in the US House of Representatives can’t pass their health care bill by Friday afternoon and send it on to the Senate, the President says he’ll walk away, and move on to other items on the Trump agenda.  Has Repeal and Replace morphed into Reveal and Disgrace?

Last October, FBI Director James Comey revealed he was looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. He waited until this week to mention that at the same time, he was also looking into allegations about collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.   Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He got to visit the White House this week! And then he said he’s very sorry about it.  Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch has made his pitch to join the Supremes. Chuck Schumer says the Dems will filibuster.  

 

Today, a conversation about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Maryland is home to four of the nation’s more than 100 institutions. Last month, President Trump issued an Executive Order directed at HBCUs after meeting with nearly 100 presidents and leaders of those institutions. Some HBCU students and alumni criticized the meeting, calling it a photo op. Several HBCU presidents who attended say they were given little time to discuss their concerns and talk about strategies to help their institutions succeed. 

The executive order takes the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities away from the purview of the Department of Education and puts it at the White House, placing it under a director appointed by the Trump administration, that person has yet to be appointed. The order also calls for several reports and it establishes committees to identify federal and private funding sources.  President Trump is not the first president to issue an order directed at HBCUs. Beginning with the Carter administration in 1980, every president has signed a document pledging support to the schools. Those documents have not always translated into impactful funding or resources for the institutions.  More than 70% of students attending HBCUs receive Pell Grants, compared to 33% of students overall. While President Trump’s latest budget proposal keeps the federal Pell grant program, it cuts the suprlus fund by $3.9 billion dollars. 

In 2015, following the uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, there was a big spike in people expressing interest in mentoring. Now two years later has that interest been sustained? Few question the fact that when young people develop a close relationship with a caring adult, those young people do better in school, and they are able to navigate the tricky waters of adolescence much more effectively than their peers who do not have an adult providing a model, and interest in their lives. Kera Ritter is the President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, one of several organizations in Maryland connecting young people with mentors.

Monica Reinagel

Today, another installment of our semi-monthly health feature, Smart Nutrition, with our regular guest, licensed nutritionist and blogger Monica Reinagel.  On this edition, Monica assesses a popular personal-health makeover plan called The Whole30 Challenge, in which folks are encouraged to spend at least 30 days not only cutting out the usual bad-diet culprits -- junk foods and sugar -- but also giving up some stuff that’s considered pretty good for you, such as dairy, beans and whole grains.  The creators of the program say it’s not a diet but a way to jumpstart a more nutritious lifestyle. So, does it work?  And more importantly, is it healthful?

Monica Reinagel, who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com as The Nutrition Diva, weighs in on the pros and cons of The Whole30 Challenge, and takes your nutrition questions, too. 

Morgan State University

Dr. Eric Conway is director of the Morgan State University Choir as well as Chairperson of the school’s Fine Arts Department. He joins Tom to talk about Morgan State University's upcoming production of The Wiz: Super Soul Musical, which opens next Thursday.

The musical hit Broadway in 1975. R&B singer Stephanie Mills starred as Dorthy. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starred in the 1978 film adaptation. Morgan State's production features  the talents of Morgan State students and local singers and actors. 

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay writes about  flawed women, women who are broken, women who won’t bow to a man’s will, women who make mistakes, women who challenge the status quo, women who are just trying to figure it all out, women women who are difficult...

Roxane Gay’s latest collection of short stories explores what it means to be a difficult woman.  Roxane Gay is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of several books including New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, and her latest Difficult Women. She joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about Difficult Women and her forthcoming memoir Hunger, which is set to be released in June. 

Simon & Schuster

*Helene Cooper will be speaking about "Madame President" on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30pm at the Maryland State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, 415 Park Ave., Baltimore MD 21201.For more information click here.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made history in 2006 she became the first woman to lead an African nation. Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Correspondent Helene Cooper chronicles President Johnson Sirleaf’s path to the highest office in Liberia in her new book Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The book is as much about President Johnson Sirleaf’s life as it is about the culture that shaped her and the women who supported her.  President Johnson Sirleaf was born between two worlds at odds in Liberia. Educated at Harvard University, she was determined to return home to help her country--a decision that often put her in danger. When she was elected in 2005 the country had just come out of a brutal period of civil war. Now she’s nearing the end of her tenure and plans to step down peacefully, the first president of Liberia to do so in decades. Helene Cooper joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's legacy. Helene Cooper is the author of New York Times bestseller The House At Sugar Beach. The book is a memoir about Helene's childhood in Liberia. 

Cover art courtesy Little, Brown and Co., Publisher

Their names are familiar: Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice...and others.   Young, unarmed black men killed by police. Their common, tragic fates and what led to them are the focus of Tom's conversation today with Wesley Lowery.

Lowery is a Washington Post reporter who’s been on the ground covering incidents of police violence since protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown.

Lowery’s new book examines law enforcement culture and the legacy of unconstitutional treatment of African-Americans that continues to seed mistrust between police and communities of color. 

“For most white Americans," Lowery tells Tom, "the police are someone you call when you are in trouble. For most black and brown Americans, the police are an oppressive force, who they see as harassing them and interacting with them in ways that could lead to them being dead.”

A Midday Special Edition: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wesley Lowery on his new book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era of America’s Racial Justice Movement. 

This program was pre-recorded, so we didn't take any phone calls.  If you want to comment on the show, you can tweet us @middaytomhall, or write to us at midday@wypr.org or on Midday's Facebook page. 

Tony Juliano

 

Today a conversation about the racial wealth gap and why it persists. Nationally, Blacks have a median household income that’s 60 percent of that of Whites; in Baltimore that number is even lower at just 54 percent. That’s according to a report from the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development

For millions of people, home ownership is the key to building wealth. African Americans and Latinos are less likely to own their own homes. And when they do, because of years of redlining in communities of color, they’re valued a lot lower than houses in traditionally white communities.

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