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Michel Martin

If you are heading to the movies to see The Angry Birds Movie 2, then you are in for a double treat. Playing before that feature is an animated short called Hair Love.

Conceived and directed by Matthew Cherry, it follows the story of an African American father — Stephen — and his daughter, Zuri. Stephen is trying to learn how to do young Zuri's glorious natural hair, and, well, it's not so easy.

When Tope Folarin sat down to write what would become his debut novel, he began by modeling its protagonist, Tunde, after his own life. Soon Tunde took on a life of his own.

"When writers used to talk about this, I thought it was mystical mumbo-jumbo — when they talk about characters doing their own thing," Folarin says an in interview. "That began to happen to me. And so I said: Well, this feels like a Tunde, and Tunde started doing all kinds of things that I didn't do and I wouldn't do. And so it kind of developed as a novel."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are continuing our reporting on the shooting in El Paso, Texas, earlier today. Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke not long ago.

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The play Fairview has won all kinds of acclaim from critics and audiences, including the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury. It first ran last year at Soho Rep in Manhattan, and has now been remounted this summer at Theatre for a New Audience's home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.

At one time, the Volkswagen Beetle was so ubiquitous that its sighting is often punctuated by a swift punch in the arm and a shout of "Punch Buggy!" (Or "Slug Bug!" depending on your regional take on the road trip game).

But this week, the Beetle set off down the road to extinction. On Wednesday, Volkswagen ended production of the Beetle, saying it wants to set its sights on manufacturing electric vehicles.

The Farewell is a movie with a wedding at the center — but the wedding isn't really the story.

The new film stars the rapper and actress Awkwafina as Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi, who travels with her family from the United States to China ostensibly to celebrate the marriage of her cousin. Really, it's to say goodbye to Nai Nai, her beloved grandmother. Nai Nai has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer — and her family decides not to tell her.

This July 4th, people across the country will once again fire up their grills and get ready for a day full of sun, barbecues and fireworks. And whether you're heading to someone else's home to celebrate, or playing host duties yourself, there are a few things to consider to help make sure your barbecue is a star-spangled success.

To get the do's and don'ts of barbecue etiquette 101, we enlisted the help of Carla Lalli Music, food director at Bon Appétit and the author of Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes To Make You A Great Cook.

Signs are pointing to a coming U.S. recession, according to an economic indicator that has preceded every recession over the past five decades.

It is known among economists and Wall Street traders as a "yield curve inversion," and it refers to when long-term interest rates are paying out less than short-term rates.

Before Bill Cosby was an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, he held a pristine reputation as one of Hollywood's most beloved entertainers.

So when Andrea Constand's sexual assault allegations against Cosby broke in 2005, Nicole Weisensee Egan, an investigative reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News at the time, was skeptical. She had grown up watching The Cosby Show, revering the show's family-friendly main character, Cliff Huxtable.

"I was like, 'Who is this woman?' Because they weren't releasing her name," Egan says.

There's a funny thing about late night TV, says Mindy Kaling. Watching these shows, "there's such a joie de vivre" — but it's at odds with the "ruthlessness and mercilessness" that goes into making the show behind the scenes. "I was obsessed with how all these people could be working so hard and be so competitive to make a product that is so entertaining and light," Kaling says.

Mavis Staples could've retired in good conscience years ago.

But slowing down isn't her style.

With her father, sisters and brother as The Staple Singers, her gospel songs scored the civil rights movement.

More than a half century later, as Staples nears 80, the decorated R&B star continues to train her soulful pipes on hope and resilience in her call for change.

Here's a puzzle: Do the qualities that allow a man to block 300lb bodies every day have anything to do with the qualities that allow the same person to solve three-body problems late into the night? Stumped? John Urschel can solve that puzzle for you.

This week, Lego announced plans to unveil customized bricks designed to help children who are blind or visually impaired learn to read Braille.

At a time when Braille literacy is declining among Americans, advocates for the visually impaired say the new product introduces a fun, interactive way to engage with the tactile system.

Melinda Gates, the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has written a new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes The World.

Published this week, the book calls on readers to support women everywhere as a means to lift up society. She pulls from her lessons learned through the inspiring women she's met on her travels with the Gates Foundation, which funds projects to reduce poverty and improve global health in the developing world (and is a funder of NPR and this blog).

Updated at 10:23 p.m. ET

In 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year old unarmed black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

In the four months that followed, the stock price of the stun-gun maker Taser International, now known as Axon Enterprise, nearly doubled.

Nina Martinez just became the world's first living HIV-positive organ donor.

In a medical breakthrough, surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital late last month successfully transplanted one of her kidneys to a recipient who is also HIV positive.

"I feel wonderful," Martinez, 35, said in an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, 11 days into her recovery. The patient who received her kidney has chosen to remain anonymous, but is doing well, Martinez is told.

On his 2014 album, Afropolitan Dreams, hip-hop artist Samuel Bazawule, also known as "Blitz the Ambassador," vividly describes his journey from wide-eyed immigrant to multinational success story. In one song he declares: "I think I'm relocating back to Ghana for good."

And, he did.

Billie Eilish prides herself on being intimidating.

"I think I have a vibe that makes you not even want to ask me anything," she says with a laugh. "You don't want to say no to me."

And so far, that vibe is working. At just 17, the LA-raised singer-songwriter makes music that is both haunting and oddly inviting. Her angsty, platinum-selling singles house dark electropop and her viral music videos toe the line between lurid and alluring.

Felipe Dana has spent more than two years photographing the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but he says he's shot his most compelling work in just the past several weeks.

Along the desert terrain of southeast Syria, Dana, a photojournalist for the Associated Press, has watched as long lines of civilians filed out of the small town of Baghouz.

The West Coast music scene has a new group to champion. The music of Oakland's SOL Development has been described as jazz, hip-hop, and, of course, soulful. The four-person collective's style may sound familiar but the member's backgrounds are not. They're teachers and classically trained musicians who use music in the classrooms to promote learning.

Lent is meant to be a time of reflection for Christians around the world. But once again this year, it comes at a time of deep disquiet within the faith. Sexual abuse and misconduct scandals have continued to rock the Catholic Church, leading many to question their religious institutions, or even their faith itself.

Stella Donnelly is not afraid to ruffle feathers or disrupt the status quo. At 26, the Australian singer-songwriter has already made that clear with songs like her breakout singles, "Boys Will Be Boys," and "Mechanical Bull" off of her 2017 debut EP, Trush Metal. Both songs attack the folkways of misogyny and rape culture.

Perhaps you have read a book or seen a play or movie set in a prep school: say, The Catcher in the Rye, or The History Boys, or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

The playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the film Moonlight, has made his Broadway debut with his own take on the setting, called Choir Boy. But instead of the WASP elite, the school in Choir Boy has an all-black student body. The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys says it wants to raise strong, ethical black men.

At the Oscars red carpet last Sunday, various stars posed for the cameras in show-stopping fashion: Lady Gaga donned a black Alexander McQueen dress and matching gloves, Rami Malek was dapper in a Saint Laurent suit by Anthony Vaccarello – and Billy Porter wore a velvet tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano that broke gender norms and amassed a huge response across the Internet.

This Tuesday's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans has thrust into the spotlight a controversial local tradition dating back more than 100 years.

Every year, members of the city's Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club don grass skirts, feather headdresses and bone jewelry for the Mardi Gras parade.

The Zulus' African-American members — and even some of their white members — also paint their faces black.

A small moment of anger pushed Grammy-winning artist Gary Clark Jr. to create the unapologetic, seething song "This Land."

Today, I have two names for those tempted to gloat, despair, or be ashamed because of Jussie Smollett, the actor now accused of orchestrating a fake bias crime against himself.

Those two names are Charles Stuart and Susan Smith.

For those who don't remember: In October 1989, Charles Stuart sent Boston police on a tear looking for the black man he claimed forced his way into his car — after a childbirth class no less — and then shot and wounded him and killed his pregnant wife.

After dance pioneer Alvin Ailey died in 1989, the future of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was uncertain. It's difficult to keep a dance company profitable after its founder is long gone – many have tried and failed. But 30 years later, the group is thriving, and decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary and founder by commissioning a new work titled Lazarus.

In 2015, a verdict was delivered on the cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools.

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