Michel Martin

Before Bill Cosby was an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, he held a pristine reputation as one of Hollywood's most beloved entertainers.

So when Andrea Constand's sexual assault allegations against Cosby broke in 2005, Nicole Weisensee Egan, an investigative reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News at the time, was skeptical. She had grown up watching The Cosby Show, revering the show's family-friendly main character, Cliff Huxtable.

"I was like, 'Who is this woman?' Because they weren't releasing her name," Egan says.

There's a funny thing about late night TV, says Mindy Kaling. Watching these shows, "there's such a joie de vivre" — but it's at odds with the "ruthlessness and mercilessness" that goes into making the show behind the scenes. "I was obsessed with how all these people could be working so hard and be so competitive to make a product that is so entertaining and light," Kaling says.

Mavis Staples could've retired in good conscience years ago.

But slowing down isn't her style.

With her father, sisters and brother as The Staple Singers, her gospel songs scored the civil rights movement.

More than a half century later, as Staples nears 80, the decorated R&B star continues to train her soulful pipes on hope and resilience in her call for change.

Melinda Gates, the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has written a new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes The World.

Published this week, the book calls on readers to support women everywhere as a means to lift up society. She pulls from her lessons learned through the inspiring women she's met on her travels with the Gates Foundation, which funds projects to reduce poverty and improve global health in the developing world (and is a funder of NPR and this blog).

Updated at 10:23 p.m. ET

In 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year old unarmed black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

In the four months that followed, the stock price of the stun-gun maker Taser International, now known as Axon Enterprise, nearly doubled.

Nina Martinez just became the world's first living HIV-positive organ donor.

In a medical breakthrough, surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital late last month successfully transplanted one of her kidneys to a recipient who is also HIV positive.

"I feel wonderful," Martinez, 35, said in an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, 11 days into her recovery. The patient who received her kidney has chosen to remain anonymous, but is doing well, Martinez is told.

On his 2014 album, Afropolitan Dreams, hip-hop artist Samuel Bazawule, also known as "Blitz the Ambassador," vividly describes his journey from wide-eyed immigrant to multinational success story. In one song he declares: "I think I'm relocating back to Ghana for good."

And, he did.

Billie Eilish prides herself on being intimidating.

"I think I have a vibe that makes you not even want to ask me anything," she says with a laugh. "You don't want to say no to me."

And so far, that vibe is working. At just 17, the LA-raised singer-songwriter makes music that is both haunting and oddly inviting. Her angsty, platinum-selling singles house dark electropop and her viral music videos toe the line between lurid and alluring.

Felipe Dana has spent more than two years photographing the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but he says he's shot his most compelling work in just the past several weeks.

Along the desert terrain of southeast Syria, Dana, a photojournalist for the Associated Press, has watched as long lines of civilians filed out of the small town of Baghouz.

The West Coast music scene has a new group to champion. The music of Oakland's SOL Development has been described as jazz, hip-hop, and, of course, soulful. The four-person collective's style may sound familiar but the member's backgrounds are not. They're teachers and classically trained musicians who use music in the classrooms to promote learning.

Lent is meant to be a time of reflection for Christians around the world. But once again this year, it comes at a time of deep disquiet within the faith. Sexual abuse and misconduct scandals have continued to rock the Catholic Church, leading many to question their religious institutions, or even their faith itself.

Perhaps you have read a book or seen a play or movie set in a prep school: say, The Catcher in the Rye, or The History Boys, or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

The playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, who co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the film Moonlight, has made his Broadway debut with his own take on the setting, called Choir Boy. But instead of the WASP elite, the school in Choir Boy has an all-black student body. The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys says it wants to raise strong, ethical black men.

At the Oscars red carpet last Sunday, various stars posed for the cameras in show-stopping fashion: Lady Gaga donned a black Alexander McQueen dress and matching gloves, Rami Malek was dapper in a Saint Laurent suit by Anthony Vaccarello – and Billy Porter wore a velvet tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano that broke gender norms and amassed a huge response across the Internet.

This Tuesday's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans has thrust into the spotlight a controversial local tradition dating back more than 100 years.

Every year, members of the city's Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club don grass skirts, feather headdresses and bone jewelry for the Mardi Gras parade.

The Zulus' African-American members — and even some of their white members — also paint their faces black.

A small moment of anger pushed Grammy-winning artist Gary Clark Jr. to create the unapologetic, seething song "This Land."

Today, I have two names for those tempted to gloat, despair, or be ashamed because of Jussie Smollett, the actor now accused of orchestrating a fake bias crime against himself.

Those two names are Charles Stuart and Susan Smith.

For those who don't remember: In October 1989, Charles Stuart sent Boston police on a tear looking for the black man he claimed forced his way into his car — after a childbirth class no less — and then shot and wounded him and killed his pregnant wife.

After dance pioneer Alvin Ailey died in 1989, the future of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was uncertain. It's difficult to keep a dance company profitable after its founder is long gone – many have tried and failed. But 30 years later, the group is thriving, and decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary and founder by commissioning a new work titled Lazarus.

Despite what her social media handle suggests, Noname isn't hiding anymore. The soft-spoken but quick-witted rapper has spent years bubbling in Chicago's hip-hop scene and sparring on tracks with friends like Saba and Chance The Rapper while still maintaining a low profile.

Taraji P. Henson is known for her hardened exterior, at least in the dramatic roles she's used to playing. But as she tells NPR's Michel Martin, it's not just an act.

"I'm such a fighter," she says. "Some women can take up for themselves. That's why I feel like I need to speak up to be an example for women."

In an interview with NPR Thursday, former executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, responded to allegations of plagiarism related to her new book Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts.

"Though I did cite these publications and tried to credit everybody perfectly, you know, I fell short," Abramson said.

In the book, which hit shelves Tuesday, Abramson examines four news outlets Buzzfeed, Vice, The New York Times and the Washington Post as they navigate an age of multi-platform news.

Fears of brain injuries has deterred many parents and their children from choosing to play football.

After years of publicity about how dangerous football can be, football enrollment has declined 6.6 percent in the past decade, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Those who still play the sport are increasingly low-income students.

Actress and comedian Amanda Seales is the type of modern renaissance woman who it seems has always been around to entertain us.

Before her star turn as Tiffany in the HBO series "Insecure," she was the MTV2 host known as Amanda Diva. She briefly toured with the neo-soul group Floetry, and she has been making appearances on college campuses for years with her comedy show Smart Funny & Black.

She hosts a podcast, "Small Doses," and she's earned legions of fans on Instagram and Twitter with hot takes on everything from dating to modern race relations.

He was an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizer behind the 1963 March on Washington.

Still, Bayard Rustin's legacy as a leading figure in the civil rights movement is little known today, even among many history buffs and within the LGBTQ community. His homosexuality cost him that visibility and was considered by some as a hindrance to the movement's success.

The path to innovation is not always a smooth, straight line. In some cases, it's U-shaped.

In September, a 2,000-foot-long floating barrier, shaped like a U, was dispatched to the Great Pacific garbage patch between Hawaii and California, where roughly 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have formed a floating field of debris roughly twice the size of Texas. Made of connected plastic pipes, the barrier was meant to catch and clean-up the plastic.

Actor Jackie Hoffman grew up hearing Yiddish, but not really speaking it.

"I spoke what my mother calls kitchen Yiddish," Hoffman says — words here and there that she picked up from conversations between her mother and grandmother.

The language had always been a part of her life, but when she landed the part of Yente the matchmaker in a Yiddish-language version of Fiddler on the Roof, she panicked. "It was intimidating," Hoffman admits.

Amid a sea of dire climate change news, researchers say they've found a rare bright spot.

A meadow of seagrass among Australia's Great Barrier Reef — estimated to be twice the size of New Jersey — is soaking up and storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Regina King appears in a new film which brings the searing social commentary of James Baldwin to the screen. If Beale Street Could Talk is based on Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name.

Beale Street is the story of two young lovers, Tish and Fonny, and their fight after Fonny is jailed for a crime he didn't commit. The movie is directed by Barry Jenkins — it's his first film since his Oscar-winning Moonlight.

On display now at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is a special exhibit centered on a rare Bible from the 1800s that was used by British missionaries to convert and educate slaves.

What's notable about this Bible is not just its rarity, but its content, or rather the lack of content. It excludes any portion of text that might inspire rebellion or liberation.

Reggae is known by many as Jamaica's most recognizable and influential musical genre. And now it has been officially recognized by the United Nations.

Pages