[ skip to content ]

Former NPR Host Norris to Deliver President's Lecture

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Former National Public Radio host Michele Norris will speak at Old Dominion University Thursday, Feb. 2 as part of the President's Lecture Series.

Norris, who for eight years was co-host of NPR newsmagazine "All Things Considered," public radio's longest-running national program, is the President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence speaker, in an event held at the start of Black History Month at Old Dominion University. Norris is also an author and has helped create social dialogue on issues of diversity and inclusiveness in America.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the North Café of Webb University Center. All President's Lecture Series events are free and open to the public, but advance registration is strongly encouraged through the Office of Community Engagement, or by calling 757-683-5759.

The President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence was created to help move Old Dominion University towards becoming a more consciously and deliberately inclusive community, by encouraging diversity in every aspect of the university. For that reason, Norris is an ideal speaker.

In addition to her high-profile public radio position, Norris has been an active participant in discussions around race and ethnicity in America.

In September 2010, Norris released her first book, "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir," which focuses on how America talks about race in the wake of Barack Obama's presidential election, and explores her own family's racial legacy.

While on sabbatical from "All Things Considered," Norris created "The Race Card Project," asking everyday citizens to think about their experiences, hopes, dreams, concerns or observations about race and identity. She asked that those thoughts be distilled in one, six-word sentence, and written on postcards.

Since the project launched, thousands of postcards have been sent to Norris from around the world.

"My idea was to use these little black postcards to get the conversation started. But I quickly realized once I hit the road on my book tour that I didn't really need that kind of incentive," Norris said, about the project.

"Despite all the talk about America's consternation or cowardice when it comes to talking about race, I seemed to have found auditorium after auditorium full of people who were more than willing to unburden themselves on this prickly topic," she said. "So the postcards that were supposed to serve as a conversation starter wound up instead serving as an epilogue."

Before coming to NPR, Norris was a correspondent for ABC News, a post she held from 1993 to 2002. As a contributing correspondent for the "Closer Look" segments on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Norris reported extensively on education, inner city issues, the nation's drug problem and poverty. Norris has also reported for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Norris attended the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in electrical engineering, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she studied journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C. and is married to Broderick Johnson. She has two young children and a stepson who attends college in California.

Old Dominion University's President's Lecture Series serves as a marketplace for ideas, featuring fascinating personalities who share their knowledge, experience, opinions and accomplishments. Discussing timely topics, the series puts diversity first, showcasing authors, educators, business innovators and political figures.

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.