Current Event May 6, 2021
In Afghanistan, education officials have banned girls over the age of 12 from singing in public, but the girls are speaking up. Many are posting videos of themselves singing on social media as part of a protest campaign. The ban comes as the Afghan government negotiates a peace agreement with the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group opposed to equal rights for women and girls. Listen to the director of an Afghan music institute explain why depriving girls of the right to sing is a “big issue,” and how it could impact the country’s future.
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.
While the words uncooperative, unruly, and unrestrained typically carry negative connotations, there are times when these qualities can be helpful. For example, most activists will agree that being obstreperous, or difficult to control, is necessary to bring about social change. Many rights and freedoms people have today were not won by quietly accepting and following the rules. Listen to learn more about the vocabulary word obstreperous and how being unruly helped women win the right to vote.
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.