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 July 15, 2020
With the presidential election months away and the coronavirus pandemic raging, some people are concerned about the health risks of in-person voting. Now, athletes are helping to address that problem. Several NBA teams have volunteered their sports arenas as polling places. The large spaces provide plenty of room for social distancing, which election officials hope will encourage voter turnout. Listen to learn how sports arenas could solve a range of voting challenges and why black athletes are speaking out about political causes more than ever before.
Current Event July 13, 2020
The Mississippi legislature voted to remove the Confederate emblem from its state flag. Designed in 1894, Mississippi’s flag incorporated an image of the Confederate battle flag, a symbol that is offensive to many citizens. The decision to remove the emblem was made amidst protests over police killings of black people and a national reckoning with racism in America, past and present. Listen to hear a Mississippi politician recount the experiences that shaped his understanding of the Confederate symbol and why he thinks the long-overdue change is finally happening.
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 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 5, 2020
How do videos of violent acts affect people? This question has been raised again by the recent leaked videotape of the killing of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia. Some say violent videos can help achieve justice for the victim, while others point out the harms that are caused when the videos become routine. Listen to learn more about the effects of viral violent videos and then debate: Should videos of community violence be shared?
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 19, 2020
A videotaped act of violence in Georgia has highlighted the challenges black men around the country face in their everyday lives. Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young black man, was shot by two white men who said they believed he was a burglar. Arbery was jogging when he was attacked and killed. Research shows that black men of all social classes often feel threatened as they go about their daily routines. Listen to a sociologist describe his research on what black men do to appear less threatening and how the threat they regularly feel impacts their lives.
Update: Since this story aired, Ahmaud Arbery’s attackers have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assalt.
Current Event May 14, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequities in Americans’ access to health care. Some people in underserved communities, including many black Americans, lacked adequate health insurance and access to doctors even before the pandemic. The virus has hit these vulnerable groups especially hard. A new nonprofit is working to bring resources into low-income communities so people disproportionately affected by the illness can get the help they need. Listen to learn more about the healthcare inequities exposed by the pandemic and how one organization is addressing them.
Current Event March 2, 2020
The FBI announced it is moving racist violence to the same threat level as foreign terrorism. The change comes in response to a nationwide rise in racially motivated crimes, including attacks on blacks, Jews, Latinos, and other minority groups. To combat the trend, the FBI director instructed his special investigative teams to keep their eyes on domestic terrorism, and they have already arrested seven members of a violent neo-Nazi group. Listen to learn more about the FBI’s crackdown on domestic threats and why some people question whether the move will make a difference.
Current Event February 27, 2020
For Black History Month, a major bookseller placed “Diverse Editions” on its shelves with classic books by white authors featuring black faces on the covers. The bookstore says it hoped the covers would help to engage new audiences in classics like The Wizard of Oz, Frankenstein, and Romeo and Juliet. However, the action sparked outrage among many who say the bookseller is cashing in on Black History Month without truly honoring black authors. Listen to hear a writer explain why she considers the move to be “literary blackface” and what bookstores can do to support diversity.
Current Event February 6, 2020
More Hollywood films featuring Asian Americans are being made, with some hitting it big at the box office. According to one producer, the trend signals a change in the way Asian Americans are perceived and accepted by mainstream culture. Listen to hear a YouTube channel producer explain how digital media helps minority artists break through, and what the success of Awkwafina means for other Asian American performers.
Current Event February 4, 2020
A new study finds that Latino youth face higher rates of depression than their black and white peers. The results reflect a range of problems Latinos in America are facing, including discrimination, violence, and for some, fear of deportation. Listen to hear a Latina teen explain how hateful words affect her and what she is doing to combat her sadness and anger.
Current Event January 31, 2020
Felons in Mississippi often permanently lose their right to vote, even after serving their sentence. The practice has resulted in the disenfranchisement of 10% of the state’s population. Now, civil rights groups are challenging the law in court, claiming it discriminates against black citizens and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Those in favor of the law say although it was originally passed to suppress the black vote post-Reconstruction, there is no evidence of racial bias today. Listen to learn more about the lawsuit against the state of Mississippi and then debate: Should former felons be allowed to vote?
Current Event January 17, 2020
Students sued the University of California to force it to stop requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores. The complaint claims tests like the SAT and ACT are biased against low-income and non-white applicants, and scores are closely linked to family income. Defenders of the tests say they are the most objective way to evaluate skills and point to other countries that rely heavily on testing while producing high-achieving students. Listen to hear more about the lawsuit and then debate: Should college admissions use the SAT and ACT tests?
Current Event January 6, 2020
A Mississippi memorial to a teenage boy murdered on the banks of the Tallahatchie River has been rededicated for the fourth time. Emmett Till was an African American boy from Chicago visiting his Southern relatives when he was kidnapped and killed by two white men. Images from the horrific act helped to start the Civil Rights movement. Since the 1955 killing, three memorials have been installed to honor Emmett Till, but all have been vandalized. Listen to hear the director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission explain why the group decided to put up a fourth marker and how it will be protected.
Current Event December 16, 2019
The first shipload of enslaved people reached the American colonies four hundred years ago, in 1619. Although the event marked the beginning of a system that profoundly shaped American life, the date is likely unfamiliar to most people. The 1619 Project aims to change that by exploring how the legacy of slavery still impacts our country today. Listen to hear the journalist behind the project reveal truths about slavery that schools often do not teach and why the project has personal meaning for her.