Richard Pryor occupies his own special category in comedy. He played Las Vegas and made popular movies, and performed routines that were almost short stories — searing, profane and moving.
Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel in Peoria, Ill.; she beat him, too. He was expelled from high school and enlisted in the U.S. Army, but spent much of his military stint in prison. And with a special fever of genius — torched by drugs, fueled by grief and enlivened by exhilaration — he created unforgettable depictions of what it's like to feel left out of American life.
Alison Krauss recorded "Lay My Burden Down" a couple of years ago for her No. 1 country album Paper Airplane, but the song was written by Aoife O'Donovan. The singer, best known as the voice of the alt-bluegrass band Crooked Still, is releasing her first solo album this week.
Fifty-five boys — all poor and almost all African-American — were a part of a bold educational experiment in the early 1960s. They were placed in an intensive summer school program. If they finished, the headmasters of 16 prep schools agreed to accept them. Tuition paid.
Planning for that experiment started in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his "War on Poverty." Today, what began with 55 students and 16 schools has become an institution celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's called "A Better Chance."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. There was a steady rain. Soldiers fired rifle volleys, a bugler played taps and mourners paid their final respects.
The New Jersey Democrat was 89 when he died this week — and his death marked a somber milestone.
For the first time since the end of World War II, there are no veterans of that war in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg had been the only one remaining.
A grim and chaotic scene today in Santa Monica, California. That's where authorities say at least six people are dead after a shooting rampage that ended violently on the campus of Santa Monica Community College. Several more people are being treated at area hospitals. Authorities say some injuries are serious, others minor. The shooting triggered lockdowns at the college and at other nearby schools. NPR's Kirk Siegler joins us now with the latest from NPR West in Culver City. And Kirk, what have you learned so far?
Ariel Castro, whose Cleveland, Ohio, home allegedly became a prison for three kidnapped young women, has been indicted on 329 counts by a grand jury. Other charges include 177 counts of kidnapping and 139 counts of rape, as well as aggravated murder, a charge stemming from "the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy."
Before turning to songwriting, Amy Speace was both a playwright and an actor, earning a degree from Amherst College and touring with the prestigious National Shakespeare Company. (She jokes with the Mountain Stage audience about once starring in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.) She took parts in various independent film and stage productions, ran her own theater company and taught Shakespeare in the New York City school system.
Cambodian lawmakers on Friday approved a bill making it a crime to deny that atrocities were committed by the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s, echoing laws against Holocaust denial in Germany and more than a dozen other European countries.
The bill passed the assembly in Phnom Penh by a unanimous vote, but only because of the absence of opposition parliamentarians, who were expelled after forming a new party.