Current Event January 14, 2021
Rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol could be charged with sedition, or an attempt to “overthrow, put down, or destroy the government by force.” The mob attacked legislators as they were carrying out a fundamental duty of American democracy: certifying the electoral votes confirming the country’s next president. Although sedition is hard to prove in court, some say that holding violent extremists responsible for their actions will help prevent future attacks. Listen to learn more about the meaning of sedition and how it has been used in the past to prosecute terrorism.
Current Event January 12, 2021
Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced nonviolent protest and advocated for racial harmony. The racism and violence he experienced throughout his life, however, sometimes filled him with rage. King believed anger could be a useful, positive force if it was channeled productively. Listen to hear more about MLK, Jr.’s views on the strong emotion of anger and how he used it to help him accomplish his goals.
Current Event January 11, 2021
Pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building while Congress was meeting inside to officially count the electoral college votes establishing Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. They broke windows and looted offices, forcing lawmakers to flee to secure locations. Trump has falsely claimed that the election was stolen, and some say his words and actions incited the violence. Lawmakers met later in the day, after the building had been cleared, to finish their work. The insurrection, or act of rebellion against the government, has prompted a shift in support for the president in his final days in office. Listen to hear about a major attack on American democracy and the questions it raises.
Current Event October 1, 2020
Police responses to protesters in America have varied over the past century. At times, police have used force, including tear gas and riot gear, to subdue protesters. At other times, their approach has been softer, as when an officer recently took a knee to express solidarity with protesters’ demands. Listen to learn why policing strategies have shifted since the 1960s and why one expert thinks many modern day police have returned to a “militarized mentality.”
Current Event September 15, 2020
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, many young people feel that voting is an essential component of active citizenship but not enough by itself. Youth today are more engaged in politics than in years past, and a large number of them plan to vote. But they also believe political action, including public protests, is a crucial way to bring about social change. Listen to hear young people talk about why they participate in protests and learn how increased youth activism could help boost voter turnout.
Current Event September 8, 2020
On the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington demanding voting rights and an end to segregation, protesters marched again in Washington, DC for racial justice and an end to police violence. In this audio story, participants in the 1963 March on Washington recall details from the day, which featured Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech, and reflect on a struggle that spans generations. Listen to hear sounds and voices from the 1963 and 2020 marches, and learn why one man believes the fight for equality will continue beyond his lifetime.
Current Event August 31, 2020
Another police shooting of a Black man has provoked protests across the U.S., including among professional athletes. Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is paralyzed below the waist. The shooting, which was captured on video, has led to violence on the streets. Athletes have been refusing to play important games, such as NBA playoffs, risking their own professional legacies for the cause of racial justice. Listen to hear why a sports commentator believes these protests reflect an important shift in the relationship between athletes and the owners of the teams for which they play.
Current Event August 21, 2020
Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, protests against racial inequities have taken place in cities around the country. Some have turned violent, and recently federal troops were sent into several cities to patrol streets and make arrests. Officials in those cities have not requested this help, however, and many do not welcome it. They claim it is the job of local and state governments, not the federal government, to control unrest. Listen to a mayor explain why she believes the police sent to her city do not belong there and then debate: Should federal troops intervene in protests?
Current Event August 3, 2020
John Lewis, a celebrated civil rights leader and long-time member of Congress, has died. As a young man, Lewis fought courageously for racial justice alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. Among other acts of nonviolent resistance, he led the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in support of voting rights, where he was severely beaten and arrested. Lewis continued to champion issues of justice as a legislator, earning him the nickname, “the conscience of Congress.” Listen to learn more about the life of John Lewis and how his passion and commitment to racial equality has inspired lawmakers and citizens for generations.
Current Event July 29, 2020
The Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC, was created in 1876 to commemorate the freeing of enslaved people. It depicts a newly freed slave kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. Now, as Confederate statues and other symbols of racism are being dismantled around the country, some people are calling for this statue’s removal, too. They view the statue as a representation of oppression, while others see it as an image of liberation. Listen to learn more about the history of the Emancipation Memorial and the controversy surrounding it and hear black citizens from different generations express their views.
Current Event June 24, 2020
As protests against police brutality and racial inequities continue throughout the country, two national sports organizations have announced changes to their policies. The NFL says it will observe a company holiday on Juneteenth (June 19), the day in 1865 when enslaved people were freed by federal troops in Texas. The NFL commissioner also apologized for not listening to players protesting racism in recent years. And NASCAR announced that it is banning Confederate flags at races. Listen to a sports commentator react to the policy shifts and learn why he is skeptical about whether the NFL’s messaging signals meaningful change.
Current Event June 17, 2020
Protesters are joining caravans as a way to stay safe while speaking out against racism and police violence. People with medical conditions and other concerns are finding that protesting from the safety of a car allows them to participate in demonstrations without exposing themselves to the risks of being in big crowds during the ongoing pandemic. Listen to a mother describe the difficulties of keeping toddlers socially distant at rallies, and hear the sounds of a protest caravan winding through the streets of San Francisco.
Current Event June 15, 2020
Protesters angry over the death of black people at the hands of police are demanding sweeping changes to policing systems around the country. Some say police department budgets are too large and want some of the money diverted to community support services. Others argue the only way to bring real change is to dismantle and replace police departments with entirely new systems. Listen to learn how policing rules in Minneapolis have already changed and why one former police officer and professor thinks abolishing the police is risky.
Current Event June 9, 2020
Protesters throughout the U.S. and the world are speaking out against racism and police brutality after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. In this interview, a state representative from Louisville, Kentucky discusses why the demonstrations are fueled by frustrations, built up over decades, about inequities between white and minority communities. Listen to hear the representative describe how a peaceful protest she attended turned violent and how she hopes the movement will motivate young people to act.
Current Event June 2, 2020
Protests broke out in cities around the country following the death of a black man in Minneapolis. Video footage showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over eight minutes while he begged for his life and while other officers watched. Although the officers were fired and one was charged with murder, protesters are demanding sweeping changes to a police system they say suffers from deep-seated racial bias. Listen to learn more about the protests and hear one protester explain why she risked her health to participate.
Current Event May 29, 2020
Two South Dakota Native American tribes have placed highway checkpoints near their reservations to screen visitors for signs of COVID-19. Officials have demanded that they remove the roadblocks from state highways, but the tribes argue that their residents are especially vulnerable to infection and need protection. Listen to learn more about the standoff between tribal leaders and the state government and then debate: Do citizens have a right to protect themselves from the pandemic?
Current Event January 23, 2020
A striking sculpture by artist Kehinde Wiley is moving to a Virginia street alongside several statues honoring Confederate war heroes. Wiley’s sculpture is called “Rumors of War” and features an African-American boy on a horse wearing a hoodie. It is meant to challenge how the Civil War and its aftermath are memorialized on the street and throughout the country. Listen to learn more about the sculpture and to hear a professor explain why it is sure to spark conversation about how we remember the past.
Current Event January 21, 2020
Iranians took to the streets in angry protest after government leaders admitted to accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing everyone aboard. The protest came just days after Iranian citizens had gathered on the streets to condemn the killing of their beloved general, Soleimani, by the Americans. Listen to hear why protesters are angry with their supreme leader and how the government is responding to the unrest.
Current Event January 13, 2020
The United States launched an airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, and Iranians responded with grief and anger. Soleimani was Iran’s most powerful general and a beloved national hero. He had organized deadly attacks on Americans over many years, prompting the strike. Listen to hear how mourners at Soleimani’s funeral, including his daughter, expressed their rage and sadness, and how they want Iran’s military to respond.
Current Event December 13, 2019
Incidents involving racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic speech are on the rise on college campuses throughout the U.S. But the First Amendment protects free speech, and colleges want to create spaces where students and professors can explore all kinds of ideas, even potentially offensive ones. Listen to learn about the recent rash of hate crimes at one college and a professor’s inflammatory comments at another, and then debate: Should free speech be protected on college campuses?