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?
Current Event December 10, 2019
In 1811, hundreds of slaves in Louisiana took up arms and marched to New Orleans in the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. The event inspired current day artist Dread Scott (named after the famous slave who petitioned the court for his freedom in 1857) to organize a reenactment of the march with a new ending. Scott’s rebels end up victorious, unlike the originals, and his event celebrates the slaves’ heroism as well as the culture of New Orleans. Listen to hear an artist describe the inspiration for his reenactment and why he chose a positive focus for the event.
Current Event October 7, 2019
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader for almost 30 years, died at age 95. In his early career, Mugabe was beloved by his own people and the international community for his stands on democracy and racial justice and against corruption. But as his power grew, Mugabe ruled with an increasingly iron fist. Listen to learn about this autocratic leader’s legacy of reform and repression, and how his countrymen ultimately forced him from power.
Collection October 1, 2019
Justice is not a destination, but a journey of struggle to right societal wrongs. This audio story collection features examples from recent history of quests for justice by many different groups in a variety of contexts. These stories explore what justice might entail, and, more often, what the absence of a just society means for the daily lives of those who have been oppressed and marginalized. These stories span multiple countries, decades, and causes, but the common threads tying them together are the shared struggles and the importance of advocacy by and on behalf of people suffering injustice of any kind.
Current Event October 1, 2019
Frustrated by the slow pace of progress on addressing climate change, millions of young people around the world recently skipped school and took to the streets in protest. The strike came days before the U.N. Climate Action Summit, and protesters of all ages joined the students with signs demanding that their governments take urgent action. Listen to hear more about these worldwide strikes and what the marchers hoped to accomplish.
Current Event September 16, 2019
India and Pakistan have been arguing for decades over control of the Muslim-majority Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since 1947, the state has officially been a part of India with special status. However, recently, the Prime Minister of India took this special status away by presidential decree. Many Muslim Kashmiris are very upset about this decision and how it was made, but others consider it a positive development. Listen to learn more about the conflict surrounding this change.
Current Event August 20, 2019
In 1969, a police raid of a bar frequented by homosexuals called the Stonewall Inn, led to a riot. The bar’s patrons began protesting and reacting violently to discrimination and harassment by the police, who regularly targeted gay bars. About ten years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. This deadly auto-immune disease disproportionately affected gay men, and therefore was essentially ignored by doctors and lawmakers, leading the gay community once again to turn to activism. Listen to learn how the Stonewall riots influenced the fight against AIDS.
Current Event August 6, 2019
In Hong Kong, protesters have been clashing with police as ongoing conflict on the streets of Hong Kong continues. Activists fear Hong Kong’s democracy is in danger because of the influence the government of mainland China has on their leaders and their lives. Listen to learn why protesters are concerned about the future of Hong Kong and its citizens, and find out what they are willing to do to protect it.
Current Event June 17, 2019
While giving her valedictorian speech at her graduation, a Texas high school student was cut off before finishing. School administrators had asked the student to remove what they believed were controversial elements in her speech, but she chose not to do that. Listen to hear more about what the student felt was important to include in her speech, despite the school’s objections, and why.