As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn't complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

The nine people who were killed in a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday have been identified by the authorities.

dierk schaefer

Elinor Burkett, citing Summers' speech and asking if men and women have different brains.

We'll talk about the controversy surrounding one of the Inland Northwest's most prominent civil rights activists. The family of Rachel Dolezal says the local leader of the NAACP has been falsely portraying herself as black for years.

It was an ugly scene. A fight broke out at a pool party in a McKinney, Texas, subdivision on Friday, allegedly after a white resident told a group of black teenagers to "go back to their Section 8 housing." Local cops show up in force. At some point, a bystander pulls out his cellphone and begins videotaping.

Chion Wolf / WNPR


Ta Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices in America today. He made the case for reparations last summer when he argued that it's time for America to confront the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and other discriminatory policies that have consistently denied African Americans opportunities afforded other Americans. He says until we admit to the debts accrued from years of racism, we can never be whole.

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When NPR launched a network-wide “diversity project” in 2012, the aim was for the network to sound more like America. Three years later, race and diversity issues are in the news like never before –- from stories about immigration, to police conduct, to how we interact on social media. 

This hour, two leaders of NPR’s project join us to look more closely at how the media covers diversity, and how we talk about it in society.

Nearly 100 years after their heroic deeds, two World War I U.S. Army soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest military honor, on Tuesday. Historians say Sgts. William Shemin and Henry Johnson hadn't been properly recognized for their bravery under fire.

Lawrie Cate / Creative Commons

Jews make up 2.2 percent of the population although it fluctuates depending on who gets counted. The U.S. Jewish population is roughly the same size, north of 6 million, as the Jewish population of Israel. 

And, since there are about 14 million Jews in the whole world, an astonishingly high percentage of them live in those two countries. 

Two men are sliding nine pine coffins into a vault in the ground on Chestnut Street in downtown Portsmouth, N.H. The remains were disinterred in 2003, part of a long-forgotten burial ground for African slaves discovered during routine road work. Now, they are being reburied among 200 other long forgotten men and women as part of Portsmouth's new African Burying Ground Memorial Park.

In his New York Times column this week, Charles Blow discussed bikers and thugs in the aftermath of the Waco shootout on Sunday.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Legislation that would limit the jurisdiction of municipal police officers who are enforcing local ordinances is in the state senate.

The bill was introduced in the House after an incident involving former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The discussion about race and police started long before the recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, Staten Island, and many other communities. Last year, former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville was questioned by West Hartford police in his own Hartford driveway while shoveling snow. That led to his widely distributed and discussed piece, "I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway." This year, Glanville took it a step further and became a vocal supporter of legislation that would limit the jurisdiction of police when enforcing local ordinances.

The 1950s was a hinge decade for noteworthy and nation-changing civil rights events across the United States, including Brown v. Board of Education in Kansas, the bus boycott in Alabama and the National Guard-protected integration of Central High School in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, there was also a revolution brewing in bookstores and public libraries.

By design or by happenstance, a handful of children's picture books were focal points of the American movement toward integration in the '50s.

The death of Freddie Gray was a homicide, and six Baltimore police officers now face criminal charges that include second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby says.

Mosby announced the charges Friday morning, citing her office's "thorough and independent" investigation and the medical examiner's report on Gray's death. She said warrants were issued Friday for the officers' arrest.

Racially charged flyers have been showing up in a few towns in the New Haven area. The flyers read "White Lives Matter," and have been found on residents' lawns in Milford, Orange, and East Haven.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he was racially profiled by police "countless times" as a youth and young man in Rhode Island's capital city.

"It's just part of growing up in the city -- which is very unfortunate and sad," Elorza, a son of Guatemalan immigrants, said Thursday during a taping of Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable. "I've been pulled over a number of times, so I'm sensitive to that."

Veggies / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy issued his first veto of the session. The definition of a "spending cap" remains murky. And the former chief-of-staff to a former legislative leader pleads guilty to mail fraud. This hour on our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, a look at the week's news from across the state, including the lack of a police response report from the Newtown tragedy. Also, a recent audit of the Hartford Police Department shows major problems with the ammunition supply and many questions remain.

We also take a look at the state of campaign finance. It has reached the point where even President Barack Obama is making jokes about it.

In the early morning, as the cold set in, Anaya Maze stood next to the charred remains of a CVS store.

Holding a sign, she was the only protester left in front of a line of police officers dressed in riot gear. She is petite. Still, she faced the police officers, looking at them intently.

A few steps away were the charred skeletons of two police vehicles, the victims of an unbridled anger that burned its way through the west side of Baltimore.

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

A Connecticut journalism professor who took students to London, England allowed the group to attend a soccer match as an opportunity to examine racism, discrimination, and hooliganism at sporting events.

Forty-five years ago, the attention of the nation and much of the world swung toward New Haven, where the murder trial of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins had made the city a magnet for Black Panther outrage and pushed New Haven to the brink of anarchy.

It's an amazing story with a cast of characters that includes not only the Panthers, but future black leaders like Kurt Schmoke, a Yale student who would become mayor of Baltimore, and J. Edgar Hoover, Jerry Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, Archibald Cox, Spiro Agnew, Kingman Brewster and Tom Hayden.

J E Theriot / Creative Commons

Known to many as the “first lady of the black press,” Ethel Payne fearlessly documented the struggle for civil rights in twentieth-century America. This hour, we take a look at a new biography, which celebrates the life and legacy of the pioneering journalist. 

T Charles Erickson / Long Wharf Theater

Governor Dannel Malloy last month announced he'll bring together  a panel of community leaders and experts for the first time today to take a look at ways to reduce the urban violence that takes the lives of young men, mostly minority and poor, in often random and senseless acts of violence. 

While those numbers are decreasing in some urban areas around the nation, including in Connecticut,  they remain higher than would be tolerated in more affluent communities.

A focus on the numbers ignores the lives behind the statistics, including the families that love victims. Nor do numbers get to the root of the problems behind the violence. 

Editor's note on April 24: An image from the video taken by a witness has been removed from this post because the copyright holder has rescinded the permission he granted to the AP to distribute that content.

Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, S.C., police officer who was charged this week with shooting an unarmed black man in the back, killing him, was exonerated in 2013 of accusations that he used excessive force against another unarmed man he thought was a suspect.

Tony Webster / Creative Commons

The shocking video out of South Carolina has race and policing back on the front page. This hour, we learn what a new CCSU report tells us about racial profiling and traffic stops in Connecticut.

The Post and Courier

The video of white North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shooting black, unarmed Walter Scott in an open field has ripped open the national wound over race relations and law enforcement abuse. Slager now faces a murder charge after he shot Scott eight times in the back while the 50-year-old father ran away following a traffic stop.

Emad Ghazipura / Creative Commons

A new report compiled data from all traffic stops in Connecticut concludes that minority drivers are statistically more likely to be stopped by law enforcement than white drivers. 

A white police officer who shot and killed a black man after a traffic stop was charged with murder in North Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday.

The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, reports that officials said a video, which shows officer Michael Slager, 33, firing at 50-year-old Walter Scott as he fled, played a role in the decision.

The paper reports:

"Mayor Keith Summey added during a news conference that Slager's 'bad decision' prompted his arrest.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Fighting and heavy airstrikes in Yemen have left many wondering what lies ahead for a country that’s engaged in what many are calling a “proxy war.” This hour, we get an update from former U.S. ambassador Mark Hambley. 

Friday night marked the start of Passover, when Jews around the world tell the story of Exodus. That story, with its radical message of freedom, has resonated with African-Americans since the days of slavery.

More than 40 years ago, these two communities wove their stories together for a new Passover ritual — the Freedom Seder.

David DesRoches / WNPR

Classes are canceled at Connecticut College on Monday after racist graffiti was found in a bathroom Sunday.