Originally Published in NPR
Paige Hymson - August 21, 2020
StoryCorps, the nonprofit, Brooklyn-based audio company that aims to share voices from diverse backgrounds, announced a new initiative Friday that will double down on that goal.
The “American Pathways” effort will span over the course of two years and highlight stories from Muslims and immigrants living in America.
“In doing so, we hope to remind all Americans of two eternal truths: that we have so much more in common than divides us, and that all of our stories matter equally and infinitely,” Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps, said in a statement issued by the company.
StoryCorps plans to partner with outside organizations to gather recordings that feature varied voices from everyday refugees, asylees, immigrants and Muslims. The material will be preserved at the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The organization crafted two new collections to house the “American Pathways” recordings: the Tapestry of Voices Collection and the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices. The latter, named after former StoryCorps producer, Liyna Anwar, is a tribute to the Indian American woman who died of acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 30. Anwar, who was passionate about her own Islamic faith, spent four years producing audio at StoryCorps dedicated to telling diverse stories with an emphasis on marginalized voices.
“Liyna would be super-grateful and just humbled to know that her name will forever be associated with these Muslim voices,” said Abbas Anwar, Liyna’s brother. “I know throughout Liyna’s career as a journalist that was what she was really passionate about: exemplifying the stories of people who were forgotten or were undervalued.”
At StoryCorps, Liyna produced stories featuring people from all walks of life. She told the story of Rob Daley, a Honduran immigrant who reflected on his first Thanksgiving experience in the United States. She spoke with two Sikh men who lost their brother in a hate crime following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. And she outlined the plight of two transgender veterans who were fighting for courage. She produced audio stories like these, and many more, that offered a voice for those in need of one.
“I think we all try to channel her integrity, drive and curiosity ... not just in terms of how we do the work but in how we live our lives,” said Jasmyn Morris, Anwar’s supervisor at StoryCorps. “Liyna made everyone around her feel important and heard, and my hope is that those who come to share their stories through this initiative come away feeling that same way.”
Anwar left StoryCorps in 2018 and continued her devotion to audio storytelling as a senior podcast producer at The Times. She helped launch “Asian Enough,” a Times podcast that explores identity in the Asian American community.
“Just as a family we’re obviously really honored and grateful to have Liyna’s legacy continue to live on,” Abbas said. “Liyna would be ecstatic to know that this is happening. And then the fact that it’s going to live on forever in the Library of Congress, that’s beyond appreciated, that’s awesome.”