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Al Letson      

Peabody Award-Winning Radio Host, Spoken Word Artist & Playwright

Soul-stirring, multi-genre creativity has garnered Al Letson national recognition, critical acclaim and devoted fans. Early in his career, Letson established himself as a heavyweight in the poetry slam movement, reaping artistic credibility and becoming renowned for his dynamic works. He has performed on a number of national, regional and local stages, including such venues as HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" and CBS's 2004 Final Four Pregame Show.

Letson was one of three finalists out of more than 1,500 applicants to win the 2008 Public Radio Talent Quest. The Talent Quest is an effort by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to find new voices and innovative programming to launch nationally on public radio. Letson's program "State of the Re:Union" launched this past February on NPR, with a robust multimedia campaign that coincided with Black History Month. "State of the Re:Union" travels to an American city or town to discover the interesting things that people are doing to create a community atmosphere and transcend their circumstances, while placing focus on the vital cultural narratives.

Along with his radio show, Letson works as a professional playwright, and actor. Drawing on his background as a performance poet, he seamlessly weaves spoken word into the fabric of his theatre work. His solo play, "Summer in Sanctuary," will be produced Off Broadway by The Abingdon Theatre Company at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre. The Baltimore Sun has stated, "Letson is a powerful performer who tells his story by moving fluidly from one role to the next."

While his many interests are diverse, the common theme in Letson's work is his effort to bring people together. By examining difficult topics and influential historical themes, he strives to focus on our common humanity and always presents with consummate artistry.

Speech Topics

State of the Re:Union

State of the Re:Union is a public radio show that seeks to unify its audience by telling the stories of real people through an innovative exploration of a city, detailing how things come together and what pulls them apart. While many of today's media outlets highlight the divisions and conflicts that separate us, State of the Re:Union stands apart--bringing something new to radio and multimedia by exploring the resonating themes, stories, challenges and cultural components that create communities across the country. Viewers and listeners are taken on this uplifting journey by award-winning poet, playwright and Public Radio Talent Quest winner Al Letson, who weaves spoken word into his soul-stirring storytelling.

Bayard Rustin: The Untold Story of a Civil and Gay Rights Pioneer

August 28th, 1963 will forever be tied to Martin Luther King Jr.'s hallowed "I Have a Dream" speech. This historic moment would probably have never come to fruition if it weren't for a man standing in King's shadow, Mr. Bayard Rustin. Rustin was a man with a number of seemingly incompatible labels: black, gay, Quaker... identifications that served to earn him as many detractors as admirers. Although he had numerous passions and pursuits, his most transformative act, one that certainly changed the course of American history, was to counsel MLK on the use of non-violent resistance. Al Letson takes the audience to a specific time in history that shapes the way we live now.


A Manifesto On Diversity In Public Media

The host of the award-winning programs State of the Re:Union and Reveal shares his ideas about making public radio sound more like America.

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