Sherrilyn Ifill walks into court with history behind her as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund. It’s the legal arm of the civil rights movement, and Sherrilyn is in its vanguard. Her hometown is Jamaica, Queens, a neighborhood in New York City where she grew up in the 1960s and '70s. That’s what Kevin Burke explores with her in this conversation, starting with the first question Sherrilyn asks whenever she takes on a new legal case: “Tell me about the history of this place.” That’s because she knows every town has one: the layers of time, buried and built over, that reveal why things are the way they are, from the bulldozing of Black neighborhoods to make way for highways to brutal acts of violence like lynchings, erased from the public square and, over time, memory. Sherrilyn wants us to see these scars of history all around us and how they impact the struggle for equal justice in America. Once you see the past in the present, you can’t unsee it. What is the connection between Sherrilyn’s civil rights work and her powerful personal story and all she experienced in her New York?
Our guest is the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose activism has made him a fixture in the press for decades in his hometown of New York City. Lately, though, we often see him as the eulogist at funeral after funeral of those taken too soon through violence. He does it with enormous grace and power, including after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. And there’s a reason for that. As Rev. Sharpton explains to Kevin Burke in this rare interview, there’s a traumatic incident that happened to him a long time ago, when he was 9 years old, that gives him the ability to speak to children who are in pain, because there is a pain deep inside of him that permanently shaped the arc of his formation as a preacher and future civil rights leader. It’s a story he doesn’t tell often, because it’s so surprising and unexpected, but in this episode, you’ll hear him share it in the most personal way. In listening, you’ll also gain an understanding that may forever alter the way you see this icon of our times.
Maria Bartiromo anchors three different television shows and was the first TV reporter to broadcast live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. She doesn’t come from the world of CEOs, however. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, she was a kid growing up in Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where she worked the coat check at her father’s restaurant and catering hall, The Rex Manor. In that world of hard work, family, and sacrifice, what did Maria learn that would help her break through the doors of the Stock Exchange? What lessons she absorbed from her family and hometown remain with the Maria we see in the world of cable news today?
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most well-known scientists on the planet. In addition to authoring numerous books, he hosts the wildly popular podcast, StarTalk, and has helped revive the epic TV series Cosmos that originated with Carl Sagan, whom he met when he was in high school. Neil is also the director of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium, part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space that he helped launch at the American Museum of Natural History in his hometown of New York City.
In an industry where most startups go up, down, and disappear, Danielle Guizio is a New York-based fashion designer on Forbes’s 30 under 30 list. If you think of the biggest celebrities on the style pages today, you’re likely to find a photo of them wearing her designs. She describes the line – which shares her name, Danielle Guizio – as “celebrating the modern-day woman who aims to deviate from the traditional and push boundaries in all aspects of life.”
Lynn Nottage is the first woman ever to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, and she’s one of the most important voices writing for the stage and screen today, with works that include Infinite Apparel, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Ruined, Sweat, and MJ: The Musical, an upcoming show on the life of Michael Jackson. She often writes about characters in private, intimate spaces, where and how real people really talk. It’s a process that began in her hometown of New York City, where she was a girl growing up in the Boerum Hill section of pre-gentrified Brooklyn.
ABout the show
Our hometowns – and the years we spend there growing up – loom large and cast long shadows. Whether we stay, move away, or eventually come back, they mark a permanent geography within our very beings. Our experiences there are foundational, our memories of them visceral – their needle ready to drop – and, in the rearview … they’re almost mythic. In this series, I want to discover where we’re from and when we’re from and how that unique crossroads in our coming of age years shapes us forever. One guest. One interview. One hometown at a time.
Check out the NYC Series Trailer
Share Your Hometown
New York City
Local engagement is vital to the mission of Your Hometown, with the series aspiring to visit a variety of iconic cities and towns for a deeper dive on each place as a hometown. This model is being launched through a first-season focus on New York City, and is a co-presentation with the Museum of the City of New York. Many think of New York as a place where people move to in order to realize their dreams, but it is critical to remember that it is also a place where young people grow up – a series of hometowns within the larger metropolis that shape rising generations through the day-to-day texture and details of family, neighborhoods, schools, and boroughs that will become the origin stories of their lives, creativity, work, and contributions to society as a whole. That is the New York this series seeks to illuminate and reveal.
Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo highlights spending time with host Kevin Burke discussing her coming-of-age years on the Your Hometown podcast series.
NBCLX’s Tabitha Lipkin welcomes Host Kevin Burke to discuss the Your Hometown podcast series.
NY1’s Justine Re highlights the Your Hometown podcast series during the “Around the Boroughs” segment.
A series of virtual conversations in partnership with the Museum of the City of New York.
Live on Tuesday, June 22, 7:00pm
Celebrated singer-songwriter and Grammy award-winning musician Suzanne Vega talks to host Kevin Burke about her role as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s New York City.
Recorded April 8, 2021
Fashion designer Danielle Guizio started her label in 2014 with just $400. Her clients now include Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, Rosalia, and Lady Gaga, and Danielle was featured in the 2019 Forbes List of 30 Under 30. Guizio joins Kevin Burke to discuss how she built her fashion label and how growing up near New York City shaped her career.
Recorded March 7, 2021
Lynn Nottage is the first, and remains the only, woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Lynn talks to host Kevin Burke about growing up in Brooklyn in the late 1960s and ’70s.
Recorded Feb 2, 2021
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is a musical icon and one of the founders—along with Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons and the late, great Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell—of the groundbreaking rap group Run-DMC. Darryl joins host Kevin Burke to discuss growing up in Queens in the 1960s and ’70s.
Your Hometown Host
Creator & Host / Executive Producer
Hometown: Newburgh, NY
Kevin Burke is a historian, journalist, and documentary film producer who has developed the podcast series “Your Hometown,” which he also hosts and produces. In addition to serving as the director of research at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, he is the founder and CEO of Kevin Burke Productions, Inc., a New-York based company. His film credits include working as a producer on the popular genealogy series “Finding Your Roots”, now in its seventh season on PBS, “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song” (PBS, 2021), and “Reconstruction: America after the Civil War” (PBS, 2019), winner of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. With Henry Louis Gates Jr., Burke is the coauthor of And Still I Rise: Black America since MLK (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2015) and co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, Twelve Years a Slave (W. W. Norton & Co., 2016). Burke graduated from Harvard College in 1998 and from Harvard Law School in 2003. He received his master’s degree in History and Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard in 2004 and 2006, respectively. A member of the New York State Bar, Burke serves on several boards, including as chair of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Conservancy and president of the Downing Film Center in Newburgh, New York, his hometown. He and his wife live with their two children in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter @Kevin_M_Burke.
Hometown: New York, NY
Hometown: Astoria, Queens, NY
Hometown: New York, NY
Hometown: Austin, TX
Hometown: Rye, New York
Brand, Web and Social Media Development
Hometown: Mahopac, NY
Social Media Manager
Hometown: New York, NY
Your Hometown is made possible in part with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Additional support provided by Joan K. Davidson (The J.M. Kaplan Fund), Rudolph Rauch/Lanegate Foundation, Lori and John Berisford, Claudette Mayer, Paul Sperry, Victoria F. Morris, Peter M. Wolf, Kenneth J. Halpern, the Newburgh Institute, David Phelps Hamar, and an anonymous donor.