As soon as he made his remarks on race Friday, President Obama was part of an intense conversation around the nation.
In dozens of cities across the country on Saturday, protesters held coordinated rallies and vigils over the not-guilty verdict in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Many African-Americans insist that understanding the context for black distress over the Zimmerman verdict is key to honest discussions about race.
On Friday, President Obama spoke from the White House press briefing room about how George Zimmerman's acquittal is being seen through the lens of the African-American experience. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about how unusual that moment was for a sitting U.S. president.
Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman on July 13 for the murder of Trayvon Martin, protesters around the country have been chanting, "No justice no peace," and carrying signs that say, "I am Trayvon Martin." On Friday, the president made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room and said Trayvon could have been him 35 years ago.
Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, right, and former Gov. John Engler shake hands with Marian and Mike Ilitch during groundbreaking ceremonies at the site of the new Tigers stadium in Oct. 1997. At the time, Archer and Detroit were basking in favorable news coverage.
Detroit was supposed to be a showplace of the urban renaissance.
A little more than a decade ago, Detroit was widely touted as one of the great comeback stories in the country. It was a common theme in the mid-to-late-1990s, with a generation of successful mayors leading their cities back from the brink — which, in cases such as New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland, included near-collapses into bankruptcy.
Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States.
President Ulysses S. Grant, former Civil War general.
Credit Mathew Brady / AP
An undated portrait by Mathew Brady of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States.
Credit John Duricka / AP
Arlen Specter, then a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questions witnesses in a 1991 hearing on Anita Hill's allegations that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. Specter's handling of his questioning of Hill outraged many women.
Credit Doug Mills / AP
President Bill Clinton, with Vice President Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, is applauded outside the Oval Office after the House of Representatives voted to impeach him, in 1998.
The race for governor in Virginia is attracting national attention for several reasons. It pits a former Democratic National Committee chairman against a conservative attorney general who helped lead the charge against President Obama's health care law. It's also one of the few high-profile statewide races happening this year, which means it will be closely watched for insights into the national mood ahead of the congressional midterm elections of 2014.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill. After a compromise, Reid stepped back from a threat to strip the Senate GOP minority of its right to filibuster executive branch nominees.
It was the eve of a series of votes to end GOP filibusters of seven presidential appointees, and Democrats had vowed they would resort to the "nuclear option" and get rid of such filibusters altogether should any of those stalled nominees remain blocked.
All but two of the Senate's 100 members squeezed into the camera-free old chamber that the Senate used until just before the Civil War. Behind closed doors, they talked for more than three hours.
I buttonholed West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller as he stepped out of that Monday night meeting.
The days are few and far between when President Obama has intentionally reminded us that he is the first African-American president.
Friday was one.
The president did something no other holder of his office has ever had the life experience to do: He used the bully pulpit to, as an African-American, explain black America to white America in the wake of last week's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
And it's with the president's comments that we begin our conversation with our Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. Good to see you both again.
President Obama gave an unexpected news conference Friday. He spoke for nearly 17 minutes about law enforcement, race and the African-American experience in the U.S. Audie Cornish speaks with Angelo Henderson, who speaks about things like that ever day as host of Your Voice with Angelo Henderson, a daily program on Radio One Detroit.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later we'll head into the barbershop as we do just about every Friday. We'll hear from the guys on why financial planning advice from McDonald's to its employees fell flat and other news of the week, that's later. But first, we turn to Detroit. The city declared bankruptcy yesterday, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in this country's history. It all comes after decades of decline from the city's bloom years as the center of the nation's auto industry.
In the penultimate edition of the podcast, NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving summarize the political fallout of the Zimmerman verdict and the Senate deal reached on filibusters and also update the latest on the Wyoming and Montana Senate races. They also try to define the word "penultimate."
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Congress this week has convened its first hearings about the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of that law last month. The meetings offer some insights into what, if anything, lawmakers will do to restore the stricken section that enables the Justice Department to review in advance changes to state voting laws.
In Washington, the man responsible for putting the IRS in the hot seat the last couple months found himself in the same harsh glare yesterday. The Treasury Department inspector general was grilled about which groups were flagged for extra scrutiny as they applied for tax exempt status. J. Russell George's reports focused on the targeting of Tea Party groups, but Democrats have released IRS documents showing liberal groups were also on watch lists. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, they want to know why his report didn't mention this.
President Obama walks off the stage after speaking about the Affordable Care Act during an event in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Obama argued that the law is holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of consumers.
For decades after the 1930s, the National Labor Relations Board served as the arbiter for squabbles between management and unions, or workers who wanted to join a union. In more recent years, though, the board itself has become a battleground.
Democratic appointees to the NLRB have grown increasingly sympathetic to organized labor, while Republican appointees have grown increasingly hostile, says Harley Shaiken, who studies labor relations as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
House Republicans, who defended in court the Defense of Marriage Act only to see it struck down by the Supreme Court last month, have now decided not to try to defend a similar law that denies veterans' benefits to married, same-sex couples.
President Obama gave a White House address Thursday, flanked by Americans now paying less for health insurance or receiving reimbursements from health insurers under Obamacare. It was a response to recent efforts by House Republicans to repeal or undermine the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
In that speech today on the health care law, President Obama made a point of highlighting some good news the administration got yesterday.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: State officials in New York announced that average premiums for consumers who buy insurance in their new marketplace will be at least 50 percent lower next year than they are today. Think about that, 50 percent lower.
Congress held yet another hearing on the IRS targeting scandal Thursday. But unlike previous hearings, where the IRS took the brunt of the tough questions for flagging conservative groups, Thursday's hearing saw the auditor whose report sparked the whole proceedings get equally tough questions from Democrats. They accuse him of neglecting to point out that liberal groups received similar scrutiny. Audie Cornish gets the latest from NPR's Tamara Keith.
A bipartisan group of senators announced a deal Thursday to protect college students from an interest rate hike on federal student loans. Those rates doubled on July 1, and lawmakers raced to forge an agreement before most students begin taking out loans for the new school year.
Researchers have discovered the largest virus ever, and they've given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus.
In mythology, opening Pandora's Box released evil into the world. But there's no need to panic. This new family of virus lives underwater and doesn't pose a major threat to human health.
"This is not going to cause any kind of widespread and acute illness or epidemic or anything," says Eugene Koonin, an evolutionary biologist at the National Institutes of Health who specializes in viruses.