Democracy Now!

Civil Rights

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  • As Neil Gorsuch begins his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, we look at his extreme right-wing political positions as a student at Columbia in the 1980s and speak with his former classmate, Jordan Kushner. While on campus, Gorsuch co-founded the right-wing campus newspaper the Federalist Paper. The Associated Press reports that in Gorsuch’s writing both for the Federalist Paper and the Columbia Daily Spectator, he criticized anti-apartheid protests, saying divestment could hurt the university’s endowment. He also criticized racial justice protests and black-led movements on campus, while he defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra scandal.

  • Radical civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, known as a people’s lawyer who represented the poor and revolutionaries, has died at the age of 77.

  • The NAACP has announced it would not hold its convention in North Carolina and urged an international boycott of the state to protest North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom bill and a series of anti-democratic actions taken by the state’s Republican Legislature. The civil rights group described the move as the first step in an economic boycott that could be expanded in North Carolina and replicated in other states that enact laws limiting voting rights and protections for gay and transgender people. North Carolina’s House Bill 2, known as the "bathroom bill," bars transgender people from using the bathrooms that match their gender identity. The NAACP has also accused Republican legislators of committing voter suppression and racial gerrymandering. We are joined in Raleigh, North Carolina, by the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. He’s the author of "Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement."

  • The Senate has confirmed Jeff Sessions as the United States attorney general after a 52-47 vote Wednesday evening. Sessions’s confirmation has faced widespread protests over his opposition to the Voting Rights Act and his history of making racist comments. The vote capped a contentious 24 hours that began Tuesday night, when Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced and rebuked by the Senate for reading a 1986 letter written by Coretta Scott King denouncing Sessions, who was at the time being considered for a federal judgeship. For more, we speak with Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds. She worked with Coretta Scott King on her memoir, "Coretta Scott King: My Life, My Love, My Legacy."

  • By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren made history Tuesday by quoting another historic woman’s 1986 letter to a Senate segregationist.

  • At least 42 Democrats plan to boycott Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration this Friday, after Trump used the weekend to attack civil rights icon John Lewis. On Friday, Democratic Congressmember Lewis questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election during an interview on NBC News. Early on Saturday morning on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Donald Trump hit back at Lewis on Twitter, saying he was "All talk, talk, talk–no action." Trump’s comments sparked a massive national backlash. Congressmember Lewis is a civil rights legend. In 1965, he was beaten almost to death by Alabama state troopers as he attempted to lead a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The images from what came to be known as Bloody Sunday helped galvanize support for the Voting Rights Act signed into law months later. Congressmember Lewis described what happened on Bloody Sunday during a 2012 interview on Democracy Now!

  • The first of a two-day confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial attorney general nominee begins today. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama faces questions from his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, where he serves as chair of the immigration subcommittee. Trump’s pick has drawn widespread outrage because of Sessions’s opposition to the Voting Rights Act, support for anti-immigration legislation and history of making racist comments. We are joined by David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, who is set to testify at Sessions’ Senate hearing, and with Kyle Barry, policy counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and co-author their report opposing Jeff Sessions’s nomination.

  • Part 2 of our conversation with Marcus Garvey’s son, Dr. Julius Garvey, who is leading the Justice4Garvey effort.

  • Today we look at another request for a presidential pardon, this one from the family of Marcus Garvey, a pioneering figure in the Black Freedom struggle in the early 20th century who inspired generations of civil rights activists around the world. In the 1920s, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover targeted Garvey for his political activity as a leader of the Pan-African movement. Garvey was convicted in 1923 on a charge of mail fraud and sentenced to five years in jail. His charges and conviction effectively ended Garvey’s political movement and eventually led to his deportation back to Jamaica. We speak to Marcus Garvey’s son, Dr. Julius Garvey, who is leading the Justice4Garvey effort.

  • On Monday night, actor and activist Danny Glover spoke at Democracy Now!’s 20th anniversary at Riverside Church—the very same place where civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech against the Vietnam War in 1967. As Danny Glover addressed more than 2,000 people, he called on the crowd and the country to organize once again in the spirit of Martin Luther King.

  • Watch the complete roundtable discussion on the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party with four former Panthers who spent decades behind bars as political prisoners.

  • A new report on the devastating harm of policies that criminalize the personal use and possession of drugs finds that in 2015 police booked more people for small-time marijuana charges than for murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined. The report also showed African-American adults are more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white adults to be arrested for drug possession despite comparable rates of drug usage. This comes as four states have legalized recreational marijuana use and five more will vote to do the same next month. Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union released the findings Wednesday with a call for states and the federal government to decriminalize low-level drug offenses. We speak with Tess Borden, author of the report "Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States."

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