Current Event April 22, 2021
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder for the May 2020 death of George Floyd. During Floyd’s arrest in Minneapolis on the suspicion that he was using a fake $20 bill, Chauvin held a knee to Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while he lay face down and handcuffed. Floyd’s painful death, captured in a video recording taken by a bystander and recounted in the televised trial, drew attention to the problems of systemic racism and police brutality, and triggered protests around the world. Listen to hear how the crowd outside the courthouse reacted to the verdict and what it may signal for the future.
Current Event April 8, 2021
The term “Hispanic” refers to a broad array of Spanish-speaking people from various countries, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Many Americans associate the word primarily with Mexicans or Spaniards, though, and do not fully appreciate the diversity it represents. A narrow understanding of “Hispanic” can lead to stereotyping and historical narratives that exclude certain groups. Listen to Hispanic Americans discuss the assumptions people make about them based on the Hispanic label and why it’s important for people to appreciate the complexities of their identities.
Current Event April 1, 2021
Title IX is a civil rights law banning sex-based discrimination in school activities, including sports. In the decades since the law was passed, girls’ and women’s sports have grown tremendously, but there are still inequalities between how men’s and women’s teams are treated. A female basketball player in the March Madness tournament recently tweeted a video showing that the training spaces given to women’s teams were inferior to those of men’s teams. Listen to a sports writer explain why the tweet caused such a strong response and how language can reflect respect.
Current Event March 28, 2021
Listen to hear about a golden retriever celebrating a milestone birthday.
Vocabulary: milestone, breed
Current Event March 25, 2021
Half of the world’s population uses feminine hygiene products at some point in their lives. Access to these products is crucial for girls and women to participate fully in school, work, and other daily activities. The cost of menstrual products can be high, though, and some women have trouble accessing them. Advocates for menstrual equity argue the government should do more to ensure that all women can get the products they need. Listen to an advocate explain why menstrual equity is an important public policy issue and which laws could change to promote equitable access.
Current Event February 23, 2021
Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation has prioritized those who speak the Cherokee language to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The language declined hundreds of years ago, when native populations were forced off their land, and today there are very few Cherokee speakers left. Mastery of the language is highly valued because it preserves native culture, and those who speak it can pass their knowledge to the next generation. Listen to hear a Cherokee sing a hymn in her native tongue, and learn why she changed her mind about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Current Event February 21, 2021
Listen to hear about a woman who cooked over a thousand lasagnas for her neighbors.
Vocabulary: fund, furloughed
Current Event February 14, 2021
Listen to hear about a very old shipwreck found on the coast of Italy.
Vocabulary: merchant, archaeologist
Current Event February 9, 2021
Mardi Gras is a festive occasion celebrated in New Orleans each year with parades, music, art, and other cultural events. The annual parades have been canceled this year because of the pandemic, but organizers have invented a creative alternative. They founded Hire a Mardi Gras Artist, a program pairing talented artists with New Orleans residents interested in installing “house floats” at their homes. Money raised from the project supports the city’s “culture bearers” – artists, musicians, and performers who embody the special culture of New Orleans. Listen to learn how the project is inspiring the city during a challenging time.
Current Event January 15, 2021
Breakdancing is the latest sport to be added to the Olympic games. Breaking is an athletic dance style incorporating acrobatics, dance moves, and freestyle footwork. It was first performed on New York City streets in the 1970s, typically to hip hop music. Some say becoming an Olympic sport could cause breaking to lose its character as it moves farther away from its urban roots. But it might also inspire a new generation of young breakers. Listen to hear a veteran breakdancer’s response and then debate: Should breakdancing become an Olympic sport?
Current Event December 10, 2020
Jelly donuts are traditionally eaten to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah, but even many Jews are not sure why. The holiday began in ancient times, when a miracle was declared after a small amount of oil burned for eight days. Eating foods fried in oil, such as donuts, reminds Jews of the miracle. But why the jelly? Listen to hear the story behind jelly donuts and how they became a traditional Hanukkah food.
Poet Joshua Bennett has published a poetry collection of odes titled Owed that celebrates people, places, and objects that he feels have not received the positive recognition they deserve. In this interview, he reflects on his experience as a Black teenager attending an elite private school. He explains how it influenced the subjects of his poetry. Bennett also shares how his perspective has changed about his writing process and his family. Listen to learn more about Owed and to hear Bennett read excerpts of his work.
Current Event November 18, 2020
After 100 years of searching, scientists in Washington state have detected gravitational waves, vibrations in space caused by the collision of black holes. The historic news was translated into dozens of languages so people around the world could share in the celebration, including Blackfoot, an endangered language spoken by a local indigenous tribe. Listen to learn why scientists decided to announce their discovery in a native language, hear how it sounds, and learn why the gesture held special meaning for the Blackfoot community.
Current Event October 27, 2020
The American spiritualist movement was founded on the belief that people can communicate with the dead. It began in the mid-1800s and, at its height, had millions of followers. Many early spiritualists were women, and they often used their voices to support women’s rights. In this audio story, an author describes her trip to a spiritualist community in Maine and what led her there. Listen to learn more about the history of spiritualism, and hear what happened when the author participated in a seance.
Current Event October 21, 2020
One of the best lacrosse teams in the world was left off the invitation list to the 2022 World Games. The Iroquois Nationals are considered the third best team worldwide. The Native American members of the team come from a generations-long tradition of playing lacrosse, a sport that originated with the Haudenosaunee people. When another team heard how the Nationals were snubbed, they took decisive action. Listen to learn why the Iroquois Nationals were excluded from play and how others responded to what they saw as an injustice.