Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 1,100 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.
Updated: 8 hours 2 min ago

"We Shall Overcome": Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs

Tue 08 10 AM

The legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!, including one of his last television interviews recorded just four months ago. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, "We Shall Overcome," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He also talks about what has been described as his “defiant optimism.” "Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] 'Seeds' is all about," Seeger said. "And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of."

Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem "We Shall Overcome." In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired generations of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died last year just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

Bill Moyers on Dark Money, the Attack on Voting Rights & How Racism Stills Drives Our Politics

Mon 08 40 AM

Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers joins us to discuss his latest investigation, which explores how the influence of large, untraceable political donations known as "dark money" have become the greatest threat to democracy in the United States. In "State of Conflict: North Carolina," Moyers and his team explore how wealthy right-wing donors are greatly influencing state politics. "This is more than North Carolina," Moyers says. "It’s a harbinger of how organized money is the greatest threat to democracy because it unbalances the equilibrium. Democracy is supposed to check the excesses of private power and private greed, and if money disestablishes that equilibrium, we’re in trouble." Moyers, the host of "Moyers & Company," also talks about the long fight to secure voting rights. Fifty years ago, he was serving in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration at the time of the "Freedom Summer" campaign in 1964 and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Moyers has won more than 30 Emmy Awards. He also was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, served as press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, and was a publisher of Newsday and senior correspondent for CBS News.

State of Conflict: Bill Moyers on North Carolina's Right-Wing Takeover & the Citizens Fighting Back

Mon 08 11 AM

In 2013, more than 1,000 people were arrested in North Carolina taking part in a series of protests called "Moral Mondays." For 13 weeks, demonstrators rallied in the state capital of Raleigh to fight moves by Republican lawmakers to attack voting rights, education, the environment, healthcare and women’s rights. Now organizers are planning their largest protest yet — the Moral March on Raleigh, scheduled for February 8. The protests in North Carolina are the focus of a recent special on Bill Moyers’ show "Moyers & Company." The documentary, "State of Conflict: North Carolina," reveals how untraceable political donations called "dark money" have pushed North Carolina far to the right politically and how citizen protesters are fighting back. We air an extended excerpt of Moyers’ report.

Moyers joins us in studio to talk about this investigation and much more. Click here to watch.

Romantic Comedy "Obvious Child" Offers Groundbreaking Cinematic Take on Abortion

Fri 08 46 AM

The romantic comedy "Obvious Child" is one of the most talked-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The film stars former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a Brooklyn comedian who speaks openly about sexuality and other taboo topics on stage. When Donna gets pregnant, she decides to have an abortion. While one in three women in the United States will have an abortion, the topic is rarely dealt with in films. "Obvious Child" has been hailed as the first romantic comedy about abortion, but it is much more than that. In a week that marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are joined by director Gillian Robespierre.

We Are the Giant: Bahrain's Top Family of Activists Pays Heavy Price for Challenging US-Backed Gov't

Fri 08 33 AM

Reconciliation talks between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran. "We are the Giant," a new documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists, the Alkhawajas. The well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is serving a life sentence, while his outspoken daughter, Zainab, is also behind bars. We are joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, who currently serves as acting president the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, while living in forced exile.

South Sudan Reaches Ceasefire, But Will Nascent State Survive Oil-Fueled Neocolonialism?

Fri 08 12 AM

After more than a month of violence that left thousands dead, rivals in South Sudan have reached a ceasefire agreement. The clashes began as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, but quickly escalated into ethnic clashes that raised fears of a civil war. We turn to a new documentary that shows how South Sudan has become ground zero for contemporary colonialism in Africa. Director Hubert Sauper’s "We Come as Friends" provides an aerial view of the conflict in Sudan from a shaky, handmade two-seater plane. The film depicts American investors, Chinese oilmen, U.N. officials and Christian missionaries struggling to shape Sudan according to their own visions, while simultaneously applauding the alleged "independence" of the world’s newest state. What emerges is a devastating critique of the consequences of cultural and economic imperialism. We speak with Sauper about the film, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Through a Lens Darkly: How African Americans Use Photography to Shape Their Cultural Representation

Thu 08 50 AM

A new film explores how African-American communities have used the medium of photography to shape how they are represented. "Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People" is directed and produced by Thomas Allen Harris, who shares his own family’s history in the film. Allen Harris is also the creator of the related project, the Digital Diaspora Family Roadshow. Both were inspired in part by the book, "Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present" by Deborah Willis, who also produced the film. Allen Harris joins us from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where his movie is having its premiere.

Freedom Summer: How Civil Rights Activists Braved Violence to Challenge Racism in 1964 Mississippi

Thu 08 32 AM

Hundreds of people marched in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Day. On Jan. 22, 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights activists marched around the Forrest County Courthouse in support of black voting rights. The rally was the beginning of a historic year in Mississippi. Months later, civil rights groups launched Freedom Summer. More than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers traveled to Mississippi to help register voters and set up what they called "Freedom Schools." Out of Freedom Summer grew the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that challenged the legitimacy of the white-only Mississippi Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The period also saw the murders of three civil rights activists — Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. Events are being held across Mississippi in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of this historic year. We are joined by Stanley Nelson, director of the new documentary, "Freedom Summer." An Emmy Award-winning MacArthur genius fellow, Nelson’s past films include "Freedom Riders" and "The Murder of Emmett Till."

"Cesar's Last Fast": How Cesar Chavez Risked Death to Protect the Lives of Farmworkers He Championed

Thu 08 10 AM

As farmworkers continue to fight for fair wages and safe working conditions across the United States, we look at the life of legendary organizer Cesar Chavez. In 1962, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association, which would later become the United Farm Workers of America. He led the union for the next three decades and organized a series of historic strikes and boycotts. The new documentary "Cesar’s Last Fast" features never-before-seen footage of Chavez’s 36-day fast in 1988 to raise awareness about the dangers of pesticides in the field. We are joined by the film’s director, Richard Ray Perez, whose father was a farmworker laboring in the conditions Chavez fought to improve.

Alive Inside: How the Magic of Music Proves Therapeutic for Patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia

Wed 08 41 AM

Could a pair of headphones change the lives of millions of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia? "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory," a new documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, follows a social worker named Dan Cohen who has launched a campaign to bring iPods and music therapy to nursing homes. One of the central characters he works with is a 90-something Alzheimer’s patient named Henry Dryer, who was featured in a video posted online that went viral in 2012, with nearly 10 million views. The clip begins with video of Dryer looking largely unresponsive to the outside world. Then he was given a pair of headphones to listen to Cab Calloway, his favorite artist. The music energizes him, awakens him and helps bring back old memories. We play clips from the film and speak with Cohen about his project, "Music & Memory," which he hopes to expand around the world. We are also joined by Michael Rossato-Bennett, the film’s director and producer.

Private Violence: Survivors & Advocates Confront Victim Blaming & the Epidemic of Domestic Abuse

Wed 08 09 AM

Just days after a Utah police officer shot dead his wife, two kids and his mother-in-law before killing himself, a new HBO documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival examines the shocking nationwide epidemic of intimate partner violence, focusing on the struggles of survivors of abuse and the advocates who support them. Set in North Carolina, "Private Violence" follows Kit Gruelle, herself a domestic violence survivor, as she helps other victims seek healing, justice and social change. Gruelle joins us along with the film’s director, Cynthia Hill. "We’re so desensitized to violence in the United States that oftentimes women have to be beaten badly enough before our criminal justice system responds," Gruelle says.

The Internet's Own Boy: Film on Aaron Swartz Captures Late Activist's Struggle for Online Freedom

Tue 08 14 AM

One year ago this month, the young Internet freedom activist and groundbreaking programmer Aaron Swartz took his own life. Swartz died shortly before he was set to go to trial for downloading millions of academic articles from servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the belief that the articles should be freely available online. At the time he committed suicide, Swartz was facing 35 years in prison, a penalty supporters called excessively harsh. Today we spend the hour looking at the new documentary, "The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz." We play excerpts of the film and speak with Swartz’s father Robert, his brother Noah, his lawyer Elliot Peters, and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger.

The Internet's Own Boy: Film on Aaron Swartz Captures Late Activist's Struggle for Online Freedom

Tue 08 14 AM

One year ago this month, the young Internet freedom activist and groundbreaking programmer Aaron Swartz took his own life. Swartz died shortly before he was set to go to trial for downloading millions of academic articles from servers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the belief that the articles should be freely available online. At the time he committed suicide, Swartz was facing 35 years in prison, a penalty supporters called excessively harsh. Today we spend the hour looking at the new documentary, "The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz." We play excerpts of the film and speak with Swartz’s father Robert, his brother Noah, his lawyer Elliot Peters, and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger.