And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Here, once again, is Ammad Omar, editor at TELL ME MORE. Welcome back, Ammad. What do you have for us?
AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Well, Michel, we're digging really deep into the mail bag today for some of our best listener interaction of the year, but we're going to go into the virtual mailbox, take a look at some of those stories that got a big response on Facebook, Twitter, email and our website.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We cannot say goodbye to 2011 without asking the Barbershop guys to give us their final thoughts on the year.
So, sitting in the chairs for the final 2011 shape-up are author Jimi Izrael, civil rights attorney and author Arsalan Iftikhar, Sports Illustrated reporter Pablo Torre and Republican strategist and former White House aide Ron Christie.
Take it, Jimi.
JIMI IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. Hey, what's up? Welcome to the shop. How we doing?
Republican presidential hopefuls are in the final days of campaigning ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Host Michel Martin explores the latest developments in the contest with Kevin Williamson, deputy managing editor of The National Review, and Michael Fauntroy, associate professor of public policy at George Mason University.
As Europe suffered economic crises in 2011, Turkey's economy boomed. And as neighboring Arab countries faced political turmoil, Turkey became a bigger regional player. Martin discusses the country's good year with John Peet, Europe editor at The Economist, and Rami Khouri, international affairs expert from American University of Beirut.
Thursday marks the fourth day of Kwanzaa, the weeklong celebration of African-American family, culture and life. The holiday also includes feasts that reflect the diversity of the African diaspora. Host Michel Martin speaks with Sanura Weathers, of the blog Kwanzaa Culinarians, about how various food bloggers are making their favorite recipes part of the Kwanzaa tradition.
The jazz saxophonist, flutist and composer passed away on Wednesday from pneumonia. He worked with Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and T. Bone Walker, and played an essential role in the abstract and avant-garde jazz movement. Host Michel Martin pays him a tribute.
In her new book, Beauty Shop Politics, Professor Tiffany Gill looks at African-American women who owned beauty shops during decades before the civil rights movement. She speaks with host Michel Martin about how salons — then and now — have become centers for economic opportunity and political awareness.
High-end fashion designers have been getting rave reviews for the African prints, textiles and shapes that they sent down the runways. Host Michel Martin explores how it was a good year for African prints and where the trend is going in 2012. She talks with online boutique owner Dolapo Shobanjo and style correspondent Robin Givhan.
And we are going to stay in the world of independent films for today's addition of our occasional feature In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of the guests who've appeared in this program about the music that inspires them.
All week, NPR is looking at people, events and ideas that fared well in 2011. Host Michel Martin explores how it was a good year for grassroots protests, both as part of the Arab Spring and the 'Occupy' movements. She speaks with NPR Cairo Correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Arun Venugopal, a reporter for member station WNYC.