April 13, 2021

10 Essential Podcasts About Criminal Justice Reform and Black History

4 min read

You’re outraged about injustice in America. You’ve long known it exists—you’ve seen the reactions to the Trump administration and heard the cries for justice from Occupy Wall Street, the 2013-15 Black Lives Matter uprisings, the Women’s March, and the March For Our Lives. But now you’re waking up to the epidemic that is anti-Blackness. You’re realizing we can’t continue these cycles of heightened national attention, waning, and inaction. What this movement needs most are informed and committed people who complete calls to action and do the work in their day-to-day lives. This means you. It won’t be easy—dismantling 400 years of oppression is never easy—but it’s the only way we can create a truly equitable society. Check out these 10 podcasts below, make your anti-racist reading list, and commit the remainder of quarantine and beyond to studying possibilities for racial equity.


All My Relations

Before and during the enslavement and exploitation of Black Americans, there was the genocide of Native Americans. We were forced to work stolen land, and it’s important that racial justice conversations begin with that lens. If America cared about indigenous lives, Officer Chauvin—one of six officers who killed Wayne Reyes, a Native American man, in 2006—would’ve never been in a position to kill George Floyd almost 14 years later.

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New York Times’ 1619

The past is never the past, and we can never forget this country’s foundation of subjugating Black people and people of color. This podcast is part of an extensive New York Times project offering insight into the four centuries since American slavery began and the legacy that continues to plague Black Americans.

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EJI’s Lynching in America

Legacy matters. It’s important for us to see police and white supremacist violence as part of the legacy of lynching and slavery. Then, we’ll realize racism never went away—it evolved. Bryan Stevenson and the EJI team explain the historical context behind these moments to reveal just how deeply rooted the problem is.

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Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw

Intersectionality has become a mainstream buzzword in recent years, but for many, it’s used out of context. Learn from the Black scholar and activist who coined the term about what intersectionality looks like in practice and how to continue the fight for justice for Black women.

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The #GroundingsPodcast

Historical context is essential when joining social justice work. We are all adding bricks to an existing foundation, and knowing what that foundation is—and the lessons already learned—prevents us from repeating mistakes. The Groundings podcast provides well-researched episodes exploring moments in social justice history from a decolonial lens.

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NPR’s Code Switch

Racism is omnipresent in American society, and until we name it we can’t address it. Code Switch shines a light on the pervasive nature of racism, from language and workplace culture to social norms. First we identify the problems, then we work to dismantle them.

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The Appeal’s Justice in America

A core component of institutionalized racism is the way Black people are criminalized and incarcerated on a mass scale. Hear from experts on the frontlines of criminal justice reform about how to embrace alternatives to policing and incarceration.

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Beyond Prisons

Now more than ever, Americans are considering prison abolition as the only meaningful systemic change when it comes to our racist criminal justice system. But for those unfamiliar with the theory, it feels like anarchy. This podcast explores the possibilities in divesting from policing and prisons as we know them and reinvesting those resources in other spheres.

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Ear Hustle

Incarcerated people are people first, and it’s important we never lose sight of their humanity. This podcast provides insight into the lived reality of incarceration and what redemption and restorative justice could look like—straight from those directly impacted.

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Angela Glover Blackwell’s Radical Imagination

I wouldn’t be an activist if I didn’t offer you solutions to reflect on. So much of the problems we face in American society stem from a fear of starting over. But dismantling systems of oppression altogether, and replacing them with radical imagination, is precisely what we need to disrupt the centuries-old cycle.

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