Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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3:11pm

Thu June 14, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Nailing The American Dream, With Polish

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 6:25 pm

A model shows off an ABC student's work. Most of the students are studying manicuring.
Courtesy of Advance Beauty College

If you've had a manicure in California, odds are the person at the other end of the emery board was of Vietnamese heritage.

Vietnamese immigrants now dominate California's nail-care industry — and make up a significant percentage of all manicurists nationwide.

The story began with a hurried immigration after the fall of Saigon almost four decades ago.

Sparked by the interest of a group of refugees and the help of a Hollywood star, the demand for affordable manicures quickly became the foundation of the American dream for many Vietnamese newcomers.

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3:29am

Tue June 5, 2012
Politics

Obama To Fundraise In Economically Strapped Calif.

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 7:03 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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6:18am

Sun April 29, 2012
Reporter's Notebook

The L.A. Riots, As A Neighbor Remembers It

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 10:31 am

Smoke covers Los Angeles Thursday, April 30, 1992, as fires from the riots burn out of control.
Paul Sakuma AP

Twenty years ago Sunday, Los Angeles erupted into destructive riots after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. The violence lasted six days and left more than 50 dead and over $1 billion in damage. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates remembers; she lived in the one of the neighborhoods that went up in flames.

Several years ago, I interviewed Karl Fleming for the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots. He was a veteran journalist who'd covered the civil rights movement in the in the 1960s for Newsweek.

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1:23am

Mon April 23, 2012
Author Interviews

Rodney King Comes To Grips With 'The Riot Within'

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 9:30 am

After suffering from injuries from the beating and struggling publicly with alcoholism, today Rodney King is contented, sober and engaged — to Cynthia Kelley, who served on the jury of King's civil trial against the city.
Morgan St. John

With a helicopter buzzing overhead, the videotape of Rodney King's encounter with police is so famous, you could say he was beaten into American history: The image of him writhing in pain as several Los Angeles police officers repeatedly beat, kicked and tasered him is, by now, world-famous — and synonymous with abuse of power.

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1:26am

Thu April 5, 2012
Movies

Many Colors Of Prejudice Are Revealed In 'Dark Girls'

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 5:56 am

Student Pamela Moore is one of the women interviewed in Dark Girls, a documentary on color discrimination by actor-director Bill Duke and co-director D. Channsin Berry.
Dark Girls, LLC

Bill Duke knew he was going to get flak from a lot of people before he ever turned the cameras on to film Dark Girls, a new documentary about the painful encounters dark-skinned black women experience in a society where lighter is usually considered better.

It's a subject that has, more often than not, been considered taboo to discuss outside the black community. So Duke knew making a general-distribution movie about color prejudice within the black community was definitely going to rub some black folks the wrong way.

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4:02pm

Wed April 4, 2012
Race

Data Reveals Complex Picture Of Hispanic Americans

A Hispanic woman walks down a street in Union City, N.J. In a new study, the Pew Hispanic Center asked Hispanic-Americans how they identify themselves.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just over half of Americans of Spanish-speaking origin have no preference between the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino," according to new data from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Of those with a preference, 33 percent preferred "Hispanic," versus the 14 percent who said "Latino" better describes them.

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6:09am

Sun February 12, 2012
Music

Whitney Houston, A 'Perfect Instrument,' Dies

Originally published on Sun February 12, 2012 3:52 pm

Pop diva Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards.
Getty Images

On the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, the conversation was all about Whitney Houston. The 48-year-old pop diva was discovered dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Saturday afternoon. The cause of her death was under investigation.

Houston died alone in the same hotel that was the venue for a party she had often entered in triumph: the annual pre-Grammy Awards bash given by her mentor, recording impresario Clive Davis.

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10:01pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Author Interviews

Connie Rice: Conscience Of The City

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 11:42 am

For years, civil rights attorney Constance Rice says, she would wake up every morning trying to figure out new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department into policing minority communities more fairly.

In her memoir, Power Concedes Nothing, Rice details how she went from the LAPD's antagonist to reformer, convincing police that they needed to court the backing and support of the city's African-American and Latino populations.

Relations between the attorney and the police force have warmed over the years: The LAPD even hosted Rice's book release party.

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4:46pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

For Teens, Weight Loss Sculpts New Lives

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 4:42 pm

Located in the North Carolina mountains, Wellspring Academy is a boarding school for overweight teenagers. In addition to their regular classes, students learn to control their weight through a healthful diet, physical activity and counseling.
Travis Dove For NPR

Second of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with students in late October.

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2:00am

Wed November 30, 2011
Law

Dr. Conrad Murray Sentenced In King Of Pop's Death

Michael Jackson's personal physician has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the pop icon's death in 2009. Because of overcrowding in California's state prisons, Murray will serve his sentence in a downtown jail.

11:58am

Tue November 22, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

School Transforms Teens' Lives, One Pound At A Time

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 5:04 pm

Wellspring students do high steps on the tennis court. Exercise is paramount at Wellspring, and a little rain doesn't get in the way of outdoor activities.
Travis Dove for NPR

First of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with the students a few months later.

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6:00am

Sat November 12, 2011
Politics

Celebrity Lawyer Takes Spotlight In Cain Case

It seems like hardly a month goes by without seeing celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred on television. This week, Allred was in the news again, representing one of presidential candidate Herman Cain's sexual harassment accusers. Her bold use of media to call attention to her clients' causes has earned the respect of some, but the irritation of others. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has a profile.

10:01pm

Thu November 10, 2011

2:00am

Tue November 8, 2011
Law

Jury Finds Dr. Murray Guilty In Pop Star's Death

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 5:25 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This morning, Dr. Conrad Murray is in a jail here in Los Angeles. Michael Jackson's personal physician was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter yesterday. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has been following the trial and has this report.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: The downtown courtroom was packed as those present waited as the clerk of the court read the jury's verdict.

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1:46pm

Mon October 24, 2011
Politics

Cornel West, A Fighter, Angers Obama Supporters

On Oct. 7, West spoke to the crowd rallying in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Federic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Princeton University professor Cornel West has spent much of the past year battling with incensed Obama supporters from Al Sharpton to street demonstrators who resent his criticism of the president.

"He's ended up being the black mascot of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats!" West has insisted in several national forums.

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10:01pm

Mon October 3, 2011
Author Interviews

Immigrants' Status Explored In 'Barbarian Nurseries'

If Hector Tobar turns out to be the Charles Dickens or the Tom Wolfe of the 21st century, he owes a big thank-you to the people of California.

Some of them, anyway.

"Really, 187's passage is what made me want to write this book," he says.

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1:59pm

Mon August 1, 2011
America's Mayors: Governing In Tough Times

Redondo Beach: Unusual Leadership Dodges Red Ink

While much of California is struggling financially, the city of Redondo Beach has managed to stay out of the red.
The City of Redondo Beach

Part 4 of a 6-part series

The wall in the hallway outside the Redondo Beach Mayor's Office kind of says it all: There is row after row of smiling faces. Almost all male. All pale. Some blond, some gray. All very indicative of what many Americans still think of when you say "California beach city," until the last photo in the last row.

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