Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! is an independent daily TV & radio news program, hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. We provide daily global news headlines, in-depth interviews and investigative reports without any advertisements or government funding. Our programming shines a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lifts up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. Democracy Now! is live weekdays at 8am ET and available 24/7 through our website and podcasts.
Updated: 4 hours 54 min ago

Univ. of Oklahoma Students Mobilize Against Racism as 2 Fraternity Members Expelled for Hate Video

Thu 07 51 AM

The University of Oklahoma has expelled two student fraternity members it says led a racist song caught on video. Members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon are seen on a bus singing a song that includes a racial slur and a vow that no black people will ever join their group. The school says the two students who allegedly led the song were expelled for creating "a hostile learning environment" and that all those involved "will learn … it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude." Hundreds of students have marched at the school in a show of protest against racism. We are joined by Rashid Campbell, a senior at the University of Oklahoma who has been participating in the protests against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity; and Tracie Washington, president and CEO of The Louisiana Justice Institute.

Eyewitness to Ferguson Police Shooting: Gunfire Did Not Come from Area of Nonviolent Protest

Thu 07 36 AM

Two police officers have been shot during a protest outside the Ferguson police headquarters early this morning. Both of the wounded officers have serious injuries. The shooting came just hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson quit following last week’s Justice Department reports finding widespread racial bias in the city’s criminal justice system. Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to be forced out in the wake of the report, including the city manager and the top municipal judge. We are joined from Ferguson by Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who witnessed last night’s shooting, and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is part of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee.

Ex-U.S. Official: With Iran Letter, "Reckless" GOP Places Middle East Hegemony over Security

Thu 07 09 AM

As nuclear talks advance before a March 31 deadline, we look at the fallout from the Republican open letter warning Iran against reaching an agreement with the United States. On Monday, a group of 47 Senate Republicans told Iran the deal could be nixed by a Republican-led Congress or future Republican president. "We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei," they wrote. We discuss the fallout from this unprecedented letter with two guests: Hillary Mann Leverett, a former official at the National Security Council who served as a U.S. negotiator with Iran and co-authored the book "Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran"; and Ali Gharib, a contributor to The Nation magazine.

Gateway to Freedom: Historian Eric Foner on the Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Wed 07 35 AM

As tens of thousands gather in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic voting rights marches of 1965, we go back 150 years to look at another chapter of the freedom struggle of African Americans. Between 1830 and 1860, more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reached freedom thanks to networks of anti-slavery resistance — commonly known as the underground railroad. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Columbia University professor Eric Foner is out with a new book, "Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad." The book uses newly discovered, detailed records of slave escapes secretly kept by a leading abolitionist. In his "Record of Fugitives," Sydney Howard Gay, the editor of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s newspaper, chronicled more than 200 escapes, some of whose stories Foner tells in this sweeping account, listing the identities of escaped slaves, where they came from, who their owners were, how they escaped and who helped them on their way to the North.

Click here to watch part 2 of this interview.

Is Venezuela Really an "Extraordinary Threat"? U.S. Sanctions Top Officials as Tensions Grow

Wed 07 14 AM

Tensions between the United States and Venezuela are increasing after the Obama administration declared Venezuela to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to national security" and slapped sanctions on seven top officials for alleged human right violations and corruption. On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro asked the National Assembly for increased power to protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty from what he described as "imperialist aggression." Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been decaying for the past few months. In December, President Obama signed legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of violating protesters’ rights during demonstrations last year when 43 people died, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officials. On February 19, the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested for allegedly being involved in a U.S.-backed coup plot. Days later, Venezuela announced it had arrested an unspecified number of Americans for engaging in espionage and recruitment activities. Venezuela also announced a series of measures, including visa requirements for U.S. citizens and restrictions and the downsizing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. This all comes as Venezuela faces an economic crisis in part because of the plummeting price of oil. We are joined by Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."

New York Hedge Funds Pour Millions of Dollars into Cuomo-Led Bid to Expand Charter Schools

Wed 07 10 AM

In his latest column for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports on the tens of millions of dollars in hedge fund donations behind the push for charter schools in New York state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the single biggest recipient, hauling in $4.8 million. After winning approval for up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities, Cuomo is calling on the state Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.

First Wedded Same-Sex Couple in Montgomery, Alabama, on Fight for Marriage Equality & Civil Rights

Tue 07 55 AM

We end today’s show looking at another fight for civil rights in Alabama: marriage equality. On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked a federal judge to keep legalizing same-sex marriage in the state on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year. Last month, Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage, but the Alabama Supreme Court directed probate judges to stop giving licenses to same-sex couples. In Selma on Sunday, Amy Goodman spoke to Tori and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson, the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery, Alabama.

Republicans Make Pilgrimage to Selma — But Will GOP Pass Bill to Restore Voting Rights Act?

Tue 07 43 AM

Over the weekend, more than 100 members of Congress traveled to Selma for the commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights. Amy Goodman had a chance to speak with Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who supports the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act. We get reaction to Sessions’ remarks from Ari Berman, who reports on voting rights policy for The Nation. He traveled to Selma this weekend with the congressional delegation. His latest article is "Fifty Years After Bloody Sunday in Selma, Everything and Nothing Has Changed." His forthcoming book, "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," will be out in August on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"I Am, Because We Are, Because Selma Was": Voices From Historic Bloody Sunday March

Tue 07 35 AM

Up to 80,000 marched in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of peaceful voting rights activists were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery in a voting rights protest. Bloody Sunday was the first of three attempted marches, finally completed under federal protection and led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 24. The protests helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We spoke to marchers on Sunday as they crossed the bridge.

Dying for the Right to Vote: Remembering the Selma Martyrs, From Jimmie Lee Jackson to Viola Liuzzo

Tue 07 26 AM

As we continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches, we look at the civil rights martyrs who lost their lives in the fight to secure voting rights in Alabama. Between February and August of 1965, four civil rights activists were killed in Alabama: Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, Rev. James Reeb and Jonathan Daniels. As tens of thousands of people marked the 50th anniversary in Selma, Democracy Now! spoke to marchers who were honoring these civil rights martyrs.

Civil Rights Icon C.T. Vivian on Nonviolence & Hypocrisy of U.S. Promoting Democracy Abroad

Tue 07 16 AM

Just outside the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, Amy Goodman had a chance to speak with the civil rights pioneer C. T. Vivian, a close friend and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago, Vivian was punched in the face by Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark on the courthouse steps in Selma as he tried to escort a group of African Americans inside to register to vote. The punch was so hard, Clark broke his own hand. Vivian speaks about the power of nonviolence and the continued fight for voting rights.

Martin Luther King III: Don't Idolize My Father, Embrace His Ideals of Freedom, Justice and Equality

Tue 07 11 AM

We continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. On this day in 1965 — the second Tuesday of March — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a second attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery. Two days earlier on Bloody Sunday, Alabama state troopers beat peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On what became known as Turnaround Tuesday, 2,000 protesters marched over the bridge. On the other side they were greeted by a line of flashing lights and police cars and helmeted troopers carrying shotguns. King told the crowd: "Folks, we’re going to have to stop. And we have been assured that we can kneel for a moment of prayer." After a short prayer, the marchers turned around. The third — and final — march from Selma to Montgomery would begin less than two weeks later on March 21. This past Sunday, King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, spoke at the historic Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma where King often spoke.

Civil Rights Pioneer Diane Nash: I Refused to March With George W. Bush During Selma Anniversary

Mon 07 52 AM

One notable civil rights activist who did not take part in this weekend’s commemorative march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma was Diane Nash, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She spoke at an event honoring civil rights foot soldiers and explained her opposition was based on the participation of former President George W. Bush. "The Selma movement stands for nonviolence and peace and democracy and fairness and voting rights. And George Bush stands for just the opposite. He stands for violence and war and stolen elections, and, for goodness sake, his administration had people tortured." She argues it is a "huge mistake for Americans to leave the future of this country in the hands of elected officials. … Suppose we had waited for elected officials to desegregate lunch counters, buses, and to get the right to vote. I think 50 years later we would still be waiting."

"The March Is Not Yet Over": President Obama Marks Bloody Sunday Anniversary in Selma

Mon 07 43 AM

President Obama spoke on Saturday in Selma, Alabama, near the Edmund Pettus Bridge where civil rights activists led three marches 50 years ago to demand equal voting rights. "The idea of a just America and a fair America, an inclusive America, and a generous America — that idea ultimately triumphed," Obama said. "Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for black folks, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian Americans, gay Americans, Americans with disabilities — they all came through those doors." He concluded: "We know the march is not yet over. We know the race is not yet won."

"Still Work to Be Done": Rep. John Lewis Returns to Selma 50 Years After He Was Beaten Unconscious

Mon 07 39 AM

John Lewis was a young organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee when he marched with 600 others across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago. On Saturday, he returned to Alabama as a Democratic congressman from Georgia to introduce President Obama during the ceremonies commemorating Bloody Sunday, when Lewis and other voting rights activists were beaten by Alabama state troopers. "On that day, 600 people marched into history," Lewis recalls. "Some of us were left bloody ... but we never became bitter." Looking forward, Lewis notes, "Our country will never, ever be the same after what happened on this bridge," but adds, "there’s still work left to be done."

The Worst Supreme Court for Civil Rights Since 1857: Alabama's First Black Federal Judge Speaks Out

Mon 07 35 AM

As thousands gather to mark a pivotal moment that prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we speak with U. W. Clemon, Alabama’s first African-American federal judge. He says the current U.S. Supreme Court is "amorous of state rights, which we thought we had fought a great Civil War over, thought we had settled that issue," and argues this is a dangerous trend that has allowed states to enact new restrictions on the right to vote that are "similar to those imposed 50 years ago." Clemon is so concerned that he says "this Supreme Court is a flamethrower, and it is in my judgment the worst Supreme Court in terms of civil rights since 1857, the decision that caused the Civil War." Clemon was referring to the court’s verdict in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, which intensified national divisions over the issue of slavery when it found Scott did not have the legal right to request his freedom. We also speak with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Ted Shaw of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law.