DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Our guest, James McBride, first became known for his memoir, "The Color Of Water," about growing up in a Brooklyn housing project. He's the son of a white mother and an African American father who died shortly before McBride was born. When McBride was a teenager, he discovered his mother was Jewish, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi. In 2016, President Obama presented McBride with the National Humanities Medal for, quote, "humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America."