Monday marks the official observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. To honor the occasion, "Connecticut First" is airing a special edition of the weekday news segment with Eric Clemmons. Watch the segment below or catch it on CPTV on Monday at 6:56 pm. It tells the story of the two summers King spent in Simsbury picking tobacco while on college break.
You may not think of Connecticut as a slave state, but in the mid 1700s, New London County held more slaves than anywhere else in New England. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison referred to our state as the "Georgia of New England."
This fact is one of many that can unsettle our Yankee sensibilities. Connecticut residents, especially white ones, grow up thinking they were on the right side of abolition, of the civil war, and later, of the civil rights movement. But the history, and the real path for African Americans who live in the state, is much more complicated.
Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 1:33 pm
The Justice Department is preparing to unveil new guidelines that ban racial, ethnic and religious profiling in federal investigations, a law enforcement source tells NPR.
The long-considered move by Attorney General Eric Holder could be announced by the end of January. Holder discussed the guidelines in general terms Wednesday in a meeting with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio; a closed-door conversation that covered strategies for preventing crime "while protecting civil rights and civil liberties," a Justice Department spokesman said.
NPR continues a series of conversations about The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Every so often, NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris will dip into those six-word stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition.
Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 7:20 pm
The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. They've spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. A big part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.
Today is Monday. That's when we do the show on the fly. We call it The Scramble and one of the twists we're trying is the reverse of ordinary public radio guest booking. Usually, we start with a topic and try to find the best possible guests. But, for one segment of The Scramble each week, we pick a guest we want to talk to and then ask him or her what the topic should be. The idea is to pick an interesting person and then find out what's on that person's mind right now.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm
This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Livehired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 10:31 am
One of America's most important — and controversial — literary figures, Amiri Baraka, died on Thursday from complications after surgery following a long illness, according to his oldest son. Baraka was 79.
Baraka co-founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. His literary legacy is as complicated as the times he lived through, from his childhood — where he recalled not being allowed to enter a segregated library — to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. His poem about that attack, "Somebody Blew Up America," quickly became infamous.
When I was a young teen in the '80s, I remember watching the news and learning about apartheid in South Africa. I remember learning about a powerful man who had been jailed simply for believing in equality and freedom, all watching the evening news, and seeing protests at Yale against apartheid.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 6:56 pm
There are many examples of triumphant liberation leaders and successful political leaders, but it's rare to find someone who has managed the transition from one to the other.
George Washington did it in the 18th century. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of Turkey did it after World War I. And Nelson Mandelaalso belongs to this exclusive club.
"It is hard enough to find someone courageous enough to lead a revolution, rarer still for them to have remarkable leadership skills," says Jack Goldstone, director of the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 8:18 am
Nelson Mandela, who became an icon of the struggle for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa's apartheid system, is being remembered across the globe on Thursday following his death at age 95.
Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection, which had been a recurring problem for him since his days as a prisoner of conscience on South Africa's Robben Island. He served 27 years at the notorious jail.
"He is now resting. He is now at peace," South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the nation.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:03 am
All this month, our friends at Tell Me More are digging into the role of blacks in technology. You can join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NPRBlacksInTech.
Software development is a huge and growing industry, and there are likely to be far more jobs in the future than there are folks to do them. But today, there's a paucity of blacks and Latinos in software development positions.
This hour, two stories, and a story about stories. Toni Harp talked about breaking a glass ceiling when she was elected mayor of New Haven earlier this month. The veteran state legislator fought back a tough challenge from Justin Elicker to become the first female mayor of the Elm City. We talk about her personal voyage to city hall, and her vision for New Haven.
There's a state law that's supposed to deter racial profiling: the Alvin Penn Law of 1999. It was never really implemented until a recent revision by the General Assembly that states exactly how police officers should collect and maintain data on traffic stops.
Here's the plan for The Nose today. We'll begin with a widely discussed column by Richard Cohen of The Washington Post who took an odd detour from a discussion of Chris Christie's national electoral profile and suggested that conventionally-minded people have to repress a gag reflex when confronted with the sight of an inter-racial couple, specifically the new first family of New York City.
Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 2:57 pm
In his first interview since the Miami Dolphins suspended him, Richie Incognito says his words to Jonathan Martin sound harsh, but that's not the way he meant them.
"My actions were coming from a place of love," he told Fox NFL Sunday. "No matter how bad and how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was, and those are the facts and that's what I'm accountable for."
As my friend Alex Beam said today, 12 Years a Slave has a way of taking things that were abstractions and making them real. It's one thing to talk about abolition, another to see the essential need for it. Even a figure like John Brown, says Alex, looks different when you see the true carnage of slavery.
We're talking about this astonishing new Steve McQueen movie today on The Nose and we'll find it pretty easy I predict.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 6:33 pm
Opponents of Alabama's strict immigration law are declaring victory Tuesday, as the state agreed not to pursue key provisions of a measure critics had called an endorsement of racial profiling. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a federal court's ruling that gutted the law.
On The Nose this week, a viral video musical tribute to Chinese food triggers cries of racism, a father welcoming his fourth daughter into the world, and opens up a can of complicated thoughts about that. And we talk about the time we walked in the shoes of the opposite sex. Listen to our weekly culture panel live from New Haven on WNPR.
Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:32 pm
Call it a linguistic identity crisis.
Growing up in Westchester, N.Y., 25-year-old Danielle Alvarez says, she and her two siblings didn't have much need for Spanish. With few other Hispanic families around, she got by with the few phrases she had picked up from her Mexican-born father: good night, put a coat on, be careful.
If you listen to public radio, you know Frank Tavares. Colin McEnroe called him NPR’s Yoda, but you probably best know him as the voice of NPR. He’s wrapping up his tenure as the voice that says, “This is NPR” after funding credits.
Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, a woman believed to be Connecticut’s longest-serving female prison inmate, will have the rare chance for early release Wednesday. The clemency hearing is to be held at Gates Correctional Institution in Niantic.
Two police officers from East Haven are facing charges that they harassed Latinos and violated their civil rights. Prosecutors are making their cases against David Cari and Dennis Spaulding in Hartford federal court. As they do, they're calling members of East Haven's largely Ecuadoran community to testify.