Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) became part of the civil-rights movement while he was a teenager. From 1963 to 1966, he chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. And he became a close associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis has been a congressman since 1987.
As the first African-American attorney in Selma, Ala., J.L. Chestnut Jr. campaigned to free jailed Civil Rights activists in the 1960s — an effort he detailed in his autobiography, Black In Selma. Chestnut died of kidney failure on Sept. 30; he was 77.
Political scientist and author runs the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics at UCLA; he talks to Terry Gross about how Barack Obama's campaign is addressing issues touching on race and ethnicity.
Author Junot Diaz won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Set in both the United States and the Dominican Republic, the novel explores the complexities of living in two cultures at once, with prose that frequently mixes Spanish and English in the same sentence.
Taylor Branch spent nearly 24 years researching and writing a three-volume biography of Martin Luther King Jr. He joins Fresh Air to disccuss the struggles and triumphs of the last three years of King's life.
Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis in 1968 rallying for fair treatment and pay of African-American sanitation workers when he was assassinated. American history professor Michael Honey joins Fresh Air to discuss his book on the labor campaign King was leading at the time of his death.
The Rev. James H. Cone founded black liberation theology, which has roots in 1960s civil-rights activism. In an interview with Terry Gross, he explains the movement — and comments on controversial sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's longtime minister and a black liberation theology proponent.