Allison Keyes

Allison Keyes is an award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience in print, radio, and television. She has been reporting for NPR's national desk since October 2005. Her reports can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday.

Keyes coverage includes news and features on a wide variety of topics. "I've done everything from interviewing musician Dave Brubeck to profiling a group of kids in Harlem that are learning responsibility and getting educational opportunities from an Ice Hockey league, to hanging out with a group of black cowboys in Brooklyn who are keeping the tradition alive." Her reports include award-winning coverage of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York, coverage of the changes John Ashcroft sought in the Patriot Act, and the NAACP lawsuit against gun companies.

In 2002 Keyes joined NPR as a reporter and substitute host for The Tavis Smiley Show. She switched to News and Notes when it launched in January 2005. Keyes enjoyed the unique opportunity News & Notes gave her to cover events that affect communities of color on a national level. "Most news outlets only bother to cover crime and the predictable museum opening or occasional community protest," she said. "But people have a right to know what's going on and how it will affect them and their communities."

In addition to working with NPR, Keyes occasionally writes and produces segments for the ABC News shows Good Morning America and World News Tonight.

Keyes is familiar with public radio, having worked intermittently for NPR since 1995. She also spent a little less than a year hosting and covering City Hall and politics for WNYC Radio. Prior to that, she spent several years at WCBS Newsradio 880.

Keyes' eyewitness reports on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York earned her the Newswoman's Club of New York 2002 Front Page Award for Breaking News, and, along with WCBS Newsradio staff, the New York State Associated Press Broadcast Award for Breaking News and Continuing Coverage. Her report on the funeral of Patrick Dorismond earned her the National Association of Black Journalists' 2001 Radio News Award.

In addition to radio, Keyes has worked in cable television and print. She has reported for Black Enterprise Magazine, co-authored two African-American history books as well as the African American Heritage Perpetual Calendar, and has written profiles for various magazines and Internet news outlets in Chicago and New York.

Keyes got her start in radio at NPR member station WBEZ in Chicago, IL, in 1988 as an assistant news director, anchor, and reporter. She graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in English and journalism. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists.

When not on the air, Keyes can be found singing jazz, listening to opera, or hanging out with her very, very large cat.

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News
3:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

150 Years On, Arlington National Cemetery Honors Its First Burial

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 6:26 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A wreath laying ceremony this morning marked the 150th anniversary of the first military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Army Private William Christman was a member of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War. As NPR's Allison Keyes reports, his descendants were on hand for what they say is an incredible honor.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESENT ARMS)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Present...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Present...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...Arms.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...Arms.

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Around the Nation
3:37 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Nearly 3 Years After Quake, Washington Monument Reopens

A repaired crack inside the Washington Monument.
Allison Keyes NPR

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 6:58 pm

The Washington Monument reopened to the public Monday for the first time since a 2011 earthquake caused significant damage to the obelisk. More than 20,000 stones had to be inspected. Scores turned out for a ceremony under sunny skies.

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Around the Nation
6:36 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Under Fire, Maryland Dealer Drops Plans To Sell Smart Gun

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 12:32 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A gun store in Maryland had been set to become the first in the country to sell something called a smart gun. But after receiving death threats, the owner of that store has changed his mind. The Armatix iP1 is electrically programmed to make it hard for anyone but the gun's owner to fire the weapon. Some gun rights activists worry that if the pistol is popular, lawmakers will require all firearms to adopt this technology. That, they say, will encroach upon second amendment rights. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

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Science
10:11 am
Sun April 27, 2014

Fossil Fans Get Their Dino-Fix Before Smithsonian Renovates

A cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull greets visitors as they enter the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun April 27, 2014 5:45 pm

Huge lines of people, kids in tow, are waiting to get into the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, the world's second-most visited museum.

Right inside the lobby, a cast of the skull of the new Tyrannosaurus rex the museum just acquired is stopping visitors dead in their tracks.

"We wanted to get up here before the exhibit for the dinosaurs closed," says Crystal Epley, who took a three-hour trip from Broadway, Va., to bring her son, John.

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Politics
4:08 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Potential Charges Against Incumbent Throw D.C. Mayor's Race Up In Air

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:28 am

The possible indictment of incumbent D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has turned what many expected to be a routine election into a referendum on whether voters trust him.

Around the Nation
3:07 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

As Calendar Flips To March, People Grow Sick Of The Snow

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 6:19 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The latest in a series of nasty winter storms socked the nation today. It rolled north through the mid-Atlantic this morning, right up the East Coast bringing freezing rain, heavy snow and plummeting temperatures. More than 2,900 flights were cancelled today and more than 7,100 were delayed. The federal government and many schools and offices also shut down.

NPR's Allison Keyes reports, for many in the nation's capital, spring can't come fast enough.

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Around the Nation
2:35 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Maryland Bill May Require Holocaust Reparations From Rail Company

Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz's Change.org petition has more than 107,000 signatures.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 8:29 am

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering a bill that would block one of the firms seeking to bid on a multibillion-dollar light rail project from winning its bid unless its majority stockholder agrees to pay reparations to Holocaust victims.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Maryland Delegate Kirill Reznik, would block a consortium including Paris-based rail company Keolis from winning a public-private partnership for the state's Purple Line project, a 35-year contract worth more than $6 billion.

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Around the Nation
4:27 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Maryland Drug Officials Worry Over A Deadly Mixture

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 6:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Tomorrow in Maryland, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration will sit down with other law enforcement groups to talk through some big questions. Tainted heroin has recently killed at least 50 people across several states, and they want to find out where it's coming from. The heroin is laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. While the DEA races to find the drug's source, NPR's Allison Keyes reports community groups are scrambling to warn addicts of the danger.

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Around the Nation
4:38 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Storm And Stress Visit The East Coast

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 6:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

A fast-moving winter storm is barreling across the mid-Atlantic and up the East Coast today. Some places are expecting up to a foot of snow. The blizzard conditions from Virginia to Massachusetts will be followed by bitterly cold temperatures. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

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Around the Nation
5:26 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Sweet 16 And Barreling Toward Cowgirl Racing Fame

Megan Yurko and her horse, Beea. Now 16, Megan has been cowgirl barrel racing since the age of 6.
Courtesy of Megan Yurko

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:19 am

Megan Yurko is small, but she's a big name in barrel racing. And the 16-year-old is on track to be crowned the world's top cowgirl barrel racer at the upcoming International Professional Rodeo Association's finals in Oklahoma City.

Just under 4-foot-10, Megan depends on her 1,200-pound filly Beea in a sport where the fastest rider around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern wins.

"The thrill of it all is awesome," Megan says.

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Architecture
4:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Historic House Is Yours Free, But There's A Catch

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:53 am

This little house is looking for a home.

In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.

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Code Switch
4:13 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

African-American Gun Club Hopes To Help Curb Youth Violence

The Maryland Tenth Cavalry Gun Club, based in Marriottsville, Md., focuses as much on discipline and black history as it does on shooting.
Courtesy of the Maryland Tenth Cavalry Gun Club

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:17 pm

More than 200 people have been killed this year in Baltimore. Most of them were black, and most of them were shot to death, despite Maryland having one of the nation's toughest gun laws. This comes two years after the city recorded its lowest murder rate in more than two decades.

Members of one of the few African-American social firearm clubs in the nation think teaching young people different ideas about guns might help deter them from a life of violence.

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Code Switch
2:54 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Trove Of Artifacts Trumpets African-American Triumphs

Hence We Come, by Norman Lewis
Courtesy of The Kinsey Collection

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:44 pm

Seventeen-year-old Tonisha Owens stared wide-eyed at the faded script on an 1854 letter. It was once carried by another 17-year-old — a slave named Frances. The letter was written by a plantation owner's wife to a slave dealer, saying that she needed to sell her chambermaid to pay for horses. But Frances didn't know how to read or write, and didn't know what she carried.

"She does not know she is to be sold. I couldn't tell her," the letter reads. "I own all her family and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could not."

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NPR Story
6:14 am
Sat November 9, 2013

'We Will Rock You': A Bohemian Musical

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 10:24 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Don Gonyea. Whether or not you're a fan of rock and roll, you've surely heard at least one of the hits by Queen. The British band dominated the airwaves in the '70s and '80s and now their music is rocking the world again, this time in a jukebox musical called "We Will Rock You."

The show has been running in London for a dozen years but now an Americanized version is touring the United States and Canada. NPR's Allison Keyes was at the opening show in Baltimore.

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The March On Washington At 50
10:54 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

50 Years After March On Washington, John Lewis Still Fights

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial during activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Michael Reynolds EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 11:33 am

Fifty years ago Wednesday, John Lewis was the youngest speaker to address the estimated quarter-million people at the March on Washington.

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NPR Story
4:26 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Preserving African-American Cemeteries

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 5:29 pm

Under a popular park in Washington, D.C., there is a 19th century burial ground that was once the largest African-American cemetery in the city. Advocates want to protect the park from further development and create space for a memorial. But how many other such burial grounds are in similar straits, and how have others solved the problem of co-existing with development and gentrification?

Around the Nation
4:05 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Wal-Mart Threatens To Pull Out Of D.C. Over Wage Requirements

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Wal-Mart is threatening to walk away from plans to build three of six new stores slated for the nation's capital. Those three stores are supposed to go up in some of the city's neediest neighborhoods. But the city council in Washington, D.C., has approved a bill requiring big box stores to pay employees a living wage of $12.50 an hour. And Wal-Mart says if that becomes the law, it will scrap its plans.

NPR's Allison Keyes spoke to people in those communities about their thoughts on the standoff.

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Code Switch
8:03 am
Sun June 23, 2013

Deconstructing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to a crowd in Detroit on June 23, 1963.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 5:23 pm

"We want all of our rights!" Martin Luther King, Jr. told a throng of people gathered in and around Detroit's Cobo Arena on June 23, 1963. He was speaking at what he called the largest and greatest demonstration for freedom ever held in the United States. "We want them here, and we want them now!" he said.

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The Two-Way
5:56 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Winfrey Gives Millions To New African-American Museum In D.C.

Oprah Winfrey gave $12 million Tuesday to help build the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, seen here in a scale model (lower center). The facility is expected to open in 2015.
Allison Keyes NPR

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is giving a multimillion-dollar boost to the Smithsonian's new facility, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She gave the museum, which is being built in Washington, D.C., $12 million Tuesday, in addition to a previous $1 million donation.

"I am so proud of African-American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole," says Winfrey, chairman and CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network. "I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps."

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Sports
5:59 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

What A Lawsuit Against The Redskins Could Mean For The Brand

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never change the team's name.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 8:23 pm

Once again, the long-standing controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins is in the news. In May, 10 members of Congress sent a letter to the team's owner and several others urging a name change.

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Theater
11:01 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

For Berry Gordy, Broadway Is Memory Lane

Valisia LeKae, Sydney Morton and Ariana Debose play the Supremes in the show.
Andrew Eccles

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:50 am

There's hardly an adult anywhere in the world who wouldn't recognize at least some of the music of Motown.

The R&B label changed the course of music in the United States and made household names of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. Now, the man who created Motown — Berry Gordy — is headed to Broadway to tell his version of how it all began.

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Animals
2:32 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Woof Out The Red Carpet: Westminster Dogs Take New York

Jerry Grymek, doggie concierge at the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan, hands a treat to Rennet, a 10-week-old French bulldog. Rennet came to the hotel from Pennsylvania ahead of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 1:30 pm

On Tuesday night, one dog will be named "best in show" at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York.

Many of the canines that have flocked to Manhattan are staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania across the street from Madison Square Garden, where judging of the main events in the show is held.

The hotel has special amenities for its four-legged guests.

"Hey, buddy," doggie concierge Jerry Grymek says to a border collie in a crate. "Welcome to the Hotel Pennsylvania."

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The Two-Way
2:08 pm
Sat January 26, 2013

Newtown Residents Join Gun Control Rally In Washington

Newtown, Conn., residents Darren Wagner and Georgia Monaghan traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the gun control rally on Saturday.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 5:47 am

Residents of Newtown, Conn., where 20 children died in December's school shootings, marched alongside other supporters of gun control at a rally on the National Mall on Saturday.

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Around the Nation
3:42 pm
Sun December 9, 2012

Ill. Considers Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar speaks to reporters at the Illinois State Capitol on Dec. 4, before a Senate vote on a law that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 6:09 pm

Illinois could become the third state — after Washington and New Mexico — where undocumented immigrants can obtain driver's licenses. The legislation is halfway there. A bill that passed the state Senate 41-14 last Tuesday has bipartisan support.

Before the Senate vote, leaders from both parties, including Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican former Gov. Jim Edgar, spoke out in favor of the legislation. Supporters say that the roads will be safer if undocumented immigrants can pass the tests and get driver's licenses.

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It's All Politics
10:06 am
Mon November 5, 2012

Arab-American Voters Lean Toward Obama, But With Less Enthusiasm

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 7:32 am

Arab-American voters strongly supported President Obama in 2008, and polls show most are doing so this time around as well. But some of those voters are concerned about the way Obama has handled issues important to their community — even if they still intend to cast their ballots for his re-election.

At the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Arab American Institute, the walls are full of red, white and blue signs in English and Arabic urging people to vote.

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