Podcast Host: "Woke History" 

Woke History is a new podcast series that features lively conversations with guests focusing on historical and contemporary issues of race, gender, political activism, and culture that are often ignored in most high school classrooms and social studies textbooks. Guests will include a wide range of individuals, from scholars and community activists to professional athletes, media personalities, and others.

Big Lez

Today’s guest is Leslie Segar, better known as Big Lez. She is a living legend and a pioneer in hip-hop, dance, radio, and television. Some of you may recognize her as the young woman dancing under the Brooklyn Bridge in the opening sequence of the 1990s sitcom Living Single starring Queen Latifah. During the 1990s Lez choreographed several hip-hop music videos and also appeared in videos for Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and LL Cool J. Big Lez was the first and only female host on BET’s Rap City from 1993-1999. She has appeared in multiple films and hosted radio shows for New York City’s HOT 97 and Atlanta’s V-103. Over her the years she has conducted interviews with some of professional sports and Hollywood’s biggest stars, and used her voice in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A fitness guru, she has also been the personal trainer for Sean “Diddy” Combs and Mary J. Blige.

Bob Sumner

Today’s guest is Bob Sumner, who is best known as the co-creator of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. With over 25 years of experience, Sumner has either introduced or reintroduced the world to many comedic legends including Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Steve Harvey, Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, Tiffany Haddish, and Kevin Hart. Between 1992 and 1997 and later in the mid-2000s, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam changed the landscape of comedy forever. Currently Sumner is an executive partner in his venture Laff Mobb which has produced specials that have aired on Showtime and Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Aspire television network. He is also the curator of Comedy at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Mr. Sumner is joining us to discuss the legacy of Def Comedy Jam, Laff Mob, and the historical significance of black comedy in America.

Fawn Weaver

Today’s guest is Mrs. Fawn Weaver. She is an American entrepreneur, historian, and New York Times-bestselling author (Happy Wives Club). She is currently the CEO of Grant Sidney Inc. and Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey (which she founded in 2017) and is the founder of the Nearest Green Foundation. In March 2021, she was named to Endeavor’s board of directors. She is also the daughter of Motown’s legendary songwriter Frank Wilson. Weaver is joining me to discuss the legacy of Nearest Green, a slave from Maryland responsible for teaching Jack Daniel to make his world famous whiskey. Mr. Green is the nation’s first black master distiller.

Today’s guest is Dr. Kristal Moore Clemons. Dr. Clemons is the newly appointed national director of The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools. The Children’s Defense Fund or CDF was founded in 1973 by Dr. Marian Wright Edelman. CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. One of the highlights of the CDF is the establishment of freedom schools which provide learning opportunities for poor children in the summer.

David J. Silverman, Ph.D

Today’s guest is David J. Silverman (Ph.D., Princeton, 2000), the director of graduate studies and a professor of history at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Dr. Silverman specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. He had authored five books. His most recent publication is This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.

Jeanne Theoharis
Today’s guests include historian Jeane Theoharis (The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks), Dr. Jamal Watson (Editor-in-Chief of Diverse and Rev. Al Sharpton’s official biographer), Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III (Friendship-West Baptist Church), and film director Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers, Vick, Freedom Riders, Crack, The Murder of Emmett Till, and Boss). They are joining to discuss the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and the passing of Rev. John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian.


Dr. Lorenzo Boyd
Today’s episode, titled “Trauma: Policing and Black America,” looks at this topic from three perspectives: policing, the effects of over-policing on black mental health, and the role of the judicial system. I have a several guests joining me throughout the episode. Guests include: Dr. Lorenzo Boyd, Dr. Christopher Bishop, Rev. Danielle Graham, Rev. Dr. Sherrill McMillan, Dr. Kendele Jasper, Kainon Jasper, Donte Mills, esq; Lennon Edwards, esq; and Gary Bailey Jr., esq.


Dr. Oliver Rosales
Dr. Oliver Rosales
(Professor of history at Bakersfield College), Elena Romero (Hip-Hop fashion historian/professor at Fashion Institute of Technology), Isaac Hernandez (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), and Dany Vargas (Trinity Washington University class of 2020) join me to discuss what it means to be a Latino American, debates over immigration, civil rights, and politics.

Andy Shallal
Today’s guest is Mr. Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is best known as the founder/CEO of the Washington, D.C., area restaurant and performance venue Busboys and Poets. Mr. Shallal also has a special interest in politics. He was strong opponent of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He ran for mayor of Washington, DC in 2014. We will be discussing several issues including his thoughts on immigration, gentrification, entrepreneurship in the midst of pandemic, and the legendary poet Langston Hughes.

Every city has a place to eat and meet. It’s a culinary institution. And in Washington, DC, that meeting place is Ben’s Chili Bowl. Everyone from President Barack Obama, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, and Bill Cosby to Bruno Mars, Bono, Kevin Durant, and yours truly has dined there. Ben’s has been featured in Hollywood movies and has one of the best murals in the city. Today’s guest is Mrs. Virginia Ali, the co-founder of the restaurant. She is joining me to discuss Ben’s remarkable legacy and place in the history, culture, and cuisine of our nation’s capital.

Today’s guests are Dr. Todd Boyd and Gene Smith. Boyd is the Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race & Popular Culture and Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. Boyd has written several books and appeared in documentaries for CNN, ESPN, and HBO. He recently appeared in the Emmy winning Michael Jordan docuseries, The Last Dance. He wrote the script for the 1999 film The Wood starring Omar Epps and Taye Diggs. Gene Smith was the captain of the 1984 men’s basketball national championship team at Georgetown University. Smith spent over 20 years in the sneaker industry working with Nike, Jordan Brand, and Adidas. They are joining me to discuss various issues related to race and sports in America.

Sonya Lockett

Today’s guest is Sonya Lockett, the chief impact officer at One Community. One Community is a major player in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Ms. Lockett will discuss how she and the company harnesses the power of storytelling to bring about social change and justice in America and worldwide with films like Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, and Jennifer Hudson’s Aretha.

Robin Means-Coleman

Dr. Robin Means Coleman, is Northwestern University’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer. Prior to starting at Northwestern this past February, she served as an administrator and communications professor at Texas A&M University. She has written and edited several books, including Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to the Present, which inspired the 2019 documentary film Horror Noire. She is joining me today to discuss her research on black horror and other related topics.

Today’s guest is three-time Grammy Award-nominated Chicago rapper Vic Mensa. Vic was originally discovered by Jay Z and signed to his Roc Nation label in 2015. XXL magazine featured him on the cover of their coveted freshman class issue. He received a Grammy nomination for being a co-writer on the Kanye West song “All Day.” He also appeared on the song “Wolves” which was featured on Kanye’s The Life of Pablo album. Vic Mensa is much more than just a rapper. He is very outspoken activist. He appeared on the CNN series United Shades of America to discuss steps he is taking to end gang violence in Chicago.

Today’s guests are comedian Lil Rel Howery and DeShauna Spencer. Many of you may know him from his role as the hilarious TSA agent Rod Williams in the blockbuster-Oscar Nominated film Get Out. Rel was a regular cast member on The Carmichael Show, a sitcom on NBC that also featured Tiffany Haddish, Loretta DeVine, and David Allen Grier. He produced and starred in his own sitcom, Rel, on Fox in 2019. In 2021 you can see him in the new Kevin Hart movie Fatherhood and Judas and the Black Messiah about the slain civil rights leader Fred Hampton. Ms. Spencer is the founder and CEO of kweliTV. She and Rel discuss their new venture to provide a platform for comedy on the black entertainment streaming network, Kweli TV. The network celebrates global black culture through curated documentaries, indie films, web series, children’s programming and now comedy.

Today’s guests are retired NBA champion/all-star Caron Butler and Michael Wilbon, Emmy winning co-host of ESPN’s PTI and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame honoree. Wilbon and Butler are joining me to discuss professional sports and social activism. Butler, a former Los Angeles Lakers teammate of the late Kobe Bryant, also reflects on his legacy.


Today’s guest is culinary historian Michael Twitty. Mr. Twitty is a noted chef and scholar who has been featured on PBS, HBO, and documentaries with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. His 2018 book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South won the James Beard Foundation Book of the Year award. The foundation recognizes the nation’s top chefs, restaurateurs, authors, and journalists each year. He has a forthcoming book titled Kosher Soul. Mr. Twitty is joining me today to discuss the role food plays in shaping culture, identity, and history.