Walter Ray Watson
Walter Ray Watson is a senior producer for NPR News.
Watson joined NPR in 1987 as a production assistant on Weekend Edition Sunday, working when the program was hosted by Susan Stamberg and later by Liane Hansen.
He is working on the music series "American Anthem." In 2018, Watson produced stories for the special series "1968: How We Got Here." Previously, he helped launch the Code Switch podcast covering race and identity.
During his tenure at Weekend Edition Sunday, he produced stories on organ donor transplants in Pittsburgh, the threatened closing of Harlem's Apollo Theatre, and countless music features — a signature of the Sunday morning program — including performance-chats with Joni Mitchell, Charles Lloyd, and Awadagin Pratt. He traveled to Topeka, Kansas, with education correspondent Claudio Sanchez to mark the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. As a reporter, he has profiled jazz musician Jason Moran, writer Junot Diaz, dancer-choreographer Bebe Miller, and Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento.
Watson was supervising senior producer of the weekend broadcasts of All Things Considered for more than eight years. He oversaw coverage of the impeachment vote of President Clinton, the contested 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
He's proud of his work in South Africa with NPR correspondent Renee Montagne when NPR examined that country two years after the election of Nelson Mandela. He's also worked on stories of recovery after Hurricane Katrina and the immediate impact of Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Watson won a George Foster Peabody Award in 2013 with host-correspondent Michele Norris for Norris' original storytelling project on race and identity, "The Race Card Project." He won an award the next year for best radio feature from the National Association of Black Journalists on the discovery and restoration of a rare 1913 silent feature film starring Bert Williams and a large African American cast.
Born in Louisiana, he grew up in Chicago. Before coming to NPR, he was a staff writer for The New Pittsburgh Courier, a bi-weekly African American newspaper. Watson earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
Sidney Poitier, the great actor, director and activist who died this week at age 94, was revered for his magnetic presence, and for showing the humanity in ambitious, hopeful Black characters.
Poitier was the first Black actor to win a Best Actor Oscar, for 1963's Lilies of the Field. His good looks and smooth, commanding presence made him an icon to generations of moviegoers.
The state of Mississippi is the subject of lawsuits and a federal investigation following the deaths of more than 30 inmates in its prison system since late last year.
With "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," Simone aimed to capture joy in black identity amid bloody civil rights struggle. The song was addressed to children, but adults caught on, too.
The photographer and folklorist documented a caravan of mule-driven wagons that left Mississippi to march on Washington 50 years ago to draw attention to poverty.
Maury Landsman's parents stayed home on Aug. 28, 1963. Their liquor store, like all others in the nation's capital, was shuttered the day of the March on Washington and the couple had no interest in attending. But Landsman, then 20, felt strongly that he needed to be there.
Lloyd led a jazz quartet into The Fillmore, San Francisco's legendary rock venue, in the 1960s. He backed Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King and hit the road with The Beach Boys. The charismatic musician is 75 this week.