Current Event September 3, 2015
The phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” has become a rallying cry and trending hashtag across the country. The expression, “to throw your hands up,” can indicate hopelessness or that something is too difficult to continue, which resonates with how helpless some feel after the many incidents of shootings of black men by police. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is used to protest police abuses and started after the death of Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last August. Some officers say this chant makes teens more emboldened and non-compliant with the police, along with being a questionable retelling of the events of Michael Brown’s death. Listen to hear how this chant is seen in different ways to different people.
Current Event September 2, 2015
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech at the March on Washington in 1963 known as the "I Have A Dream" speech. The year before, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech in Rocky Mount, N.C that anticipated the famous speech. A recording of the first known version of the "I Have A Dream" speech was recently discovered by a professor at North Carolina State. Listen to hear about this speech and the memories of someone who heard it first as a high school student in 1962.
Current Event August 19, 2015
Historically slaves in the United States are depicted as uneducated farm hands on plantations in the South. But that wasn’t true for all slaves. One famous slave named Yarrow Mamout was an educated Muslim who earned his freedom and even had his portrait painted by a famous American painter. He was a entrepreneur, money-lender and stock-owner, as well as having a reputation for being honest and moral. Archaeologists are trying to find out more about Yarrow Mamout by excavating a plot of land in Georgetown where he owned a home from 1796 until his death in 1823. Listen to this story to learn why this former slave is so well-known and respected.
Current Event July 7, 2015
In June a 21-year-old white man entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the bible study, and then shot and killed nine of the black church members. The alleged shooter was later identified as Dylann Roof, a self proclaimed white supremacist who photographed himself with a Confederate flag and hoped to start a race war. Listen to this story to learn how the attack has reignited the debate about the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.
Update: South Carolina Governor signed a bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds on July 9, 2015.
Current Event June 25, 2015
Why do Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th? John Adams himself thought that July 2nd would be the day Americans celebrated independence but he was wrong. What happened on July 4th to mark such an occasion? This story explores the origins of Independence Day and examines the issues of slavery and immigration in the early days of the United States.
Current Event June 23, 2015
The journey of slaves from Africa to the New World has been well documented but very few artifacts from the time exist. The founding director of the Smithsonian's African American Museum has been hunting for the remains of a slave ship for years and has finally found one off the coast of South Africa. Listen to learn more about the discovery, the story behind the boat and how the Smithsonian hopes to use parts of the boat in museum exhibits.
Current Event June 21, 2015
The NAACP is a national civil rights organization that represents and works to serve the African American community. It was recently discovered that an NAACP leader from Spokane Washington lied and misrepresented her race. Rachel Dolezal was born to two white parents but identifies as black and has falsely claimed African American and Native American heritage. This falsehood had prompted a larger conversation about about racial boundaries and how they are observed.
Current Event May 13, 2015
The Great Migration was a period of African American migration from the Jim Crow South to the North from 1915 to the 1970s. People left their rural southern lives behind in the hope that there would be more opportunity and equality in northern cities like New York City, Chicago and Detroit. Artist Jacob Lawrence was raised in New York City but he was the child of two Southern migrants. Lawrence saw the Great Migration first hand and vividly painted the stages of migration, from boarding trains to finding racism in the North. Listen to learn more about this period in history and how it is represented in art and music from the era.
Current Event May 8, 2015
How realistic is the “American Dream”? Is upward mobility a reality for everyone today? Are people still better off than their parents? These are the questions driving a study of economic mobility by economists at Harvard and UC Berkeley, as well as the radio reporter in this story. With a focus on Dayton, Ohio, its past and present, this story analyzes the modern factors that stunt economic mobility in West Dayton and other neighborhoods like it. It looks at whether the “American Dream” is truly attainable for everyone.
Current Event May 1, 2015
On the morning of April 12, 2015 Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man from Baltimore, was arrested by police and fell into a coma as a result of spinal cord injuries sustained while in police custody. He died on April 19th, a week after his arrest. The officers involved have been suspended with pay but there have been no public answers about what happened. Peaceful protests in Baltimore turned violent, leading to riots and property destruction. This incident tapped into anger and resentment in a city known for racial segregation, economic marginalization and police violence. Listen to learn more about the way these tensions played out in one neighborhood during the violence.
Update: The six police officers involved in Gray's death were charged with a range of crimes including murder. They have pled not guilty.
Current Event April 30, 2015
New York City is planning to acknowledge its rarely discussed history in the slave trade with an official marker at the location that served as the city’s slave market from 1711 to 1762. From its founding as New Amsterdam, the city was shaped by slavery. Slaves physically built the infrastructure of lower Manhattan. In the city’s early days bankers and merchants grew rich from their connection to the trade of Southern sugar and cotton, which was based on slave labor. New York’s wealth was so connected to slavery the mayor of New York proposed the city side with the South and secede from the Union during the Civil War. Listen to learn more about the fascinating history of slavery in this modern day progressive city.
Current Event April 3, 2015
Basketball fans across the country are preparing for the exciting end of March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. As Kentucky drives towards a undefeated season, this story remembers a time when the Southeastern Conference (SEC) was not integrated. Despite the Voting Rights Act of 1964, racism in the South was still commonplace and public. Perry Wallace stepped onto the basketball court for Vanderbilt University in 1966 and became the first black varsity athlete in the Southeastern Conference. Listen to learn more about the climate of Southern basketball in the late 1960s and how Perry Wallace survived and thrived.
Warning: Quotes in this story contain strong language.
Current Event March 17, 2015
Recently there’s been more violence in Ferguson, Missouri. Two police officers were shot last week while protecting the police department during a protest. The violence comes months after police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager last August. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the police department in Ferguson and found a pattern of discrimination against black residents in everything from traffic stops to use of force. Listen to learn more about this DOJ report and how police in Ferguson were found to be violating the Constitution.
Current Event March 10, 2015
Fifty years ago, a bloody confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama exposed the nation to the racial injustice and brutality of the American South. This event paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing all municipalities to allow black residents to register to vote. Listen to learn more about this historic event in the Civil Rights Movement from people who participated in Bloody Sunday.
Current Event February 23, 2015
Malcolm X was both charismatic and feared, and he advocated black power as a response to white racism. On February 21, 1965 he was assassinated while on stage giving a speech in Harlem. Thirty-nine year old Malcolm X was shot by three gunmen from the Nation of Islam, a group he had left the previous year. For the 50th anniversary of his killing, listen to this story about the life and legacy of this influential black leader.
Current Event February 18, 2015
ABC’s new show “Fresh Off The Boat” is the first show on network television to feature an Asian American family in over 20 years. The story of a Taiwanese family who moves to Orlando Florida is inspired by the life of chef Eddie Huang. The show is starting a much needed conversation about diversity on television and the danger of having so few Asian American characters on television. Listen to learn more about the challenge of creating culturally real content in this fresh new show.
ELA Middle School
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a young Native American who leaves the reservation to get a better education. In this semi-autobiographical book, author Sherman Alexie discusses big issues including choosing your identity, figuring out where you belong and the hardships American Indians face living on reservations.