Equity & Justice

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Culture, Income, and Justice

Updated 2:45 p.m. ET

Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, has been confirmed by the Senate, making him the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history.

The Senate approved President Biden's nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93-2 vote Friday.

"It's an honor and a privilege to serve as our country's 28th Secretary of Defense, and I'm especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position," Austin tweeted Friday.

"Let's get to work," he added.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFT EV'RY VOICE AND SING")

STANFORD TALISMAN: (Singing) Lift every voice and sing.

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Gone were the conservative evangelical leaders who had been invited in the past. No Catholic bishops or priests took part.

This year's National Prayer Service, a longstanding inauguration tradition to welcome an incoming presidential administration, instead featured two transgender faith leaders, the president of the Navajo Nation, and a host of speakers with urgent calls for national transformation.

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"Cops And Robbers" is an eight-minute animated film on Netflix. In it, a young Black man jogs through a suburban neighborhood. He remembers childhood innocence, and then his thoughts turn to adulthood.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "COPS AND ROBBERS")

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On Jan. 6, rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building and disrupted democracy in action — in the name of saving the United States of America, so-called land of the free, from an election that was not stolen, as they claimed, but free and fair.


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Anita Baron first noticed something was wrong in August 2018, when she began to drool. Her dentist chalked it up to a problem with her jaw. Then her speech became slurred. She managed to keep her company going — it offers financing to small businesses — but working became increasingly difficult for her as her speech worsened. Finally, nine months, four neurologists and countless tests later, Baron, now 66, got a diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was on the campaign trail in 2019, she loved entering events with the energy of a drum line.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUM LINE DRUMMING)

Updated 7:10 p.m. ET

Gen. Lloyd Austin, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to head the Pentagon, went before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday in a bid to make history by being confirmed as the nation's first Black secretary of defense.

During his opening statement, Austin, 67, addressed the biggest issue hovering over his nomination.

After the Capitol was cleared of insurrectionists on Jan. 6, there was work to be done. You may have seen the video of a group of Capitol workers cleaning up the great halls, trying to restore order and dignity to rooms that had been trashed and defaced.

With Joe Biden just days away from his inauguration as the nation's president, Pastor Darryl Knappen was still denying reality and even declaring himself willing to take up arms to keep Donald Trump in office.

"It was pastors who led the way in colonial times to encourage our country to shake off the totalitarian regime of the king of England," Knappen said in a Jan. 9 Facebook message to his Minnesota congregation. He was referring to the "Black Robed Regiment," a name given to those ministers who supported the Revolutionary War effort.

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From the March on Washington in 1963 up until his assassination in 1968, the FBI engaged in an intense campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and his work. Film director Sam Pollard chronicles those efforts in the new documentary, MLK/FBI.

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On the final Sunday of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. took up an invitation. On that Sunday, in 1968, he stepped into the pulpit of the National Cathedral here in Washington and delivered a sermon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Sadeqa Johnson's new novel, Yellow Wife, is a harrowing tale of the life of an enslaved woman in Virginia, beginning in the 1850s. A challenging read but beautifully told, this thought-provoking page-turner is also surprisingly uplifting. And at its core, Yellow Wife is also a story of motherhood and the sacrifices a mother will make to protect her children — no matter how those babies come into the world.

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On April 12, 1955, a wave of public relief resonated across the United States as news arrived of a vaccine that could successfully prevent polio — one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. at the time, causing "more than 15,000 cases of paralysis a year," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I am writing this on January 7, 2021, and I have no idea how to review a book that depicts a notorious historical event where white supremacists rioted and destroyed a Black community, when yesterday, almost exactly 100 years later, white supremacists rioted their way into the U.S. Capitol Building. But Angel of Greenwood deserves to fly into the world on the biggest wings she can spread, so I'm going to try.

During the chaos of the Capitol on January 6, it was impossible to miss the flags and symbols. Taken together, they allowed for a kind of brisk vexillology of the American right. There were the Trump 2020 flags, of course — and, as has been widely noted, one rioter brandished a Confederate flag in the Capitol building, a historical first.

Civil rights officials at the Department of Health and Human Services issued a series of actions to protect people with disabilities from health care discrimination by medical providers during the pandemic.

The actions, by the Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, at the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically address discrimination related to the denial of treatment for people with disabilities who have COVID-19 or the symptoms of COVID-19. They include:

Saturday Night Live and The Second City comedy enterprises have announced the recipients of a new training scholarship for diverse, emerging talent. From a pool of some 1,300 applicants, four up and coming comedians were selected: Alexi Bolden, Gabriella "Gabi" Castillo, Kaili Turner and Morgan Van Dyne. The scholarships will cover all of their performance and writing training at Second City and give them access to SNL talent executives.

Sean Urbanski, a former University of Maryland student who stabbed and killed a Black Army lieutenant at a bus stop in May 2017, was sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors said was a racially motivated hate crime.

A Prince George's County Circuit Court judge handed down the life sentence for Urbanski, 25. However, the judge denied the prosecution's request for a sentence without parole.

"I'm absolutely satisfied that justice was served," said Maryland State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy, whose office prosecuted the case.

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have shortened the average life expectancy in the United States, according to new research, and the impact is most dire for racial and ethnic minorities.

The deaths caused by COVID-19 have reduced overall life expectancy by 1.13 years, according to the analysis by researchers at the University of Southern California and Princeton University.

That would be the largest single-year decline in life expectancy in the past 40 years and cut U.S. life expectancy to 77.48 years — the lowest it's been since 2003, the researchers say.

Part 7 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on how breath can bring us closer together.

About Andy Puddicombe

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on breath and impermanence.

About Andy Puddicombe

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