The officer who didn’t stand by

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This season of Silence is Not an Option is all about fearless individuals who stand up for what’s right — even when it means breaking the rules. Host Don Lemon will share stories about Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, and others who used their fame to speak out against injustice. Don will also highlight the stories of change-makers who deserve greater recognition, like Claudette Colvin and Bayard Rustin. So, come meet the rabble-rousers and truth-tellers who put everything on the line when silence is not an option.

  • The Officer Who Didn’t Stand By

    When former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne saw a colleague put a handcuffed Black man in a chokehold, she said she knew she had to do something. Her intervention cost her job and her pension. On today’s podcast, Don Lemon hears from Horne and her lawyer, Harvard Law Professor Ron Sullivan, about that fateful day in 2006 and their ensuing legal battle that lasted until just months ago. And what does Horne’s case mean for national police reform? 

  • Fifteen-Year-Old Freedom Fighter

    Everyone’s heard the story of Rosa Parks, but few know of Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old girl who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a White passenger… nine months before Parks. So why wasn’t she the face of the movement? Don Lemon explores Colvin’s life and legacy with CNN anchor Abby Phillip and scholar Beverly Guy-Sheftall. And youth activist Anya Dillard shares what activists today can learn from Colvin’s fight for justice.  

  • Season 2: Rabble-Rousers and Truth-Tellers

    Change doesn’t happen without taking risks, without fearless activists who stand up for what’s right even when it’s uncomfortable. This season, Don shares the stories of those who used their fame to shine a light on injustice like Harry Belafonte and Eartha Kitt. But you will also hear the stories of change makers who deserve greater recognition, like a teenager who took a stand on a Montgomery bus before Rosa Parks and the police officer who stopped a chokehold. We’re talking about the folks whShow moreo know that speaking out sometimes means breaking the rules. So, come meet the rabble-rousers and truth-tellers who put everything on the line when silence is not an option. 

  • Lift Every Voice and Sing

    The so-called Black National Anthem was composed in 1900, and it’s provided a soundtrack to Black life ever since. For this special Black History Month episode, CNN’s Don Lemon speaks with Rep. James Clyburn, historian Prof. Imani Perry, and Howard University choir conductor Eric Poole about the song’s history, cultural significance, and impressive staying power over the past century. And how it’s now more relevant than ever. 

  • The Axe Files: Nikole Hannah-Jones

    When Nikole Hannah-Jones was a high school student at a predominantly white school in Waterloo, Iowa, she complained to a teacher that the school newspaper wasn’t covering stories that mattered to Black students. He told her she had two options: stop complaining or start writing for the paper and telling her own stories. She joined the paper, launching what became a celebrated career writing for publications like ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine. Nikole is well known for her reporting Show moreon segregation and racial inequities in education but recently won a Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project, which traces the legacy of slavery throughout American history. She joined Axe Files host David Axelrod to talk about what it was like growing up in working-class Iowa, how she finds motivation in being underestimated, and the inspiration and creation of The 1619 Project.

    Originally released: September, 2020

  • Black to the Future

    A record number of Black candidates ran for office this year, representing not only their constituencies, but also the diversity of perspectives that exist among Black Americans. Don talks to two newly elected representatives, Mondaire Jones (D-New York) and Cori Bush (D-Missouri), about their platforms, their strategies for Congress, and the future of Black politics. 

  • Black Women Did That

    Black women are largely responsible for electing America’s next president. They have been one of the Democratic party’s most reliable voting blocs for a long time. Why? Don talks with LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, about how their votes were earned in the 2020 election. Also, Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson discusses the excitement surrounding VP-elect Kamala Harris and her affiliation with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated (AKA).

  • Blaxit

    Why stay where you’re not wanted? Some Black Americans are thinking about moving abroad to escape centuries of racial oppression and marginalization. Historian Kevin Gaines shares the long history behind this phenomenon. Don also speaks with author Tiffanie Drayton about her move from the U.S. to Trinidad and Tobago and why she considers herself a refugee.

  • Yes, Voter Suppression is Alive and Well

    Why is still so hard for Black communities to vote in this country? Massive early voter turnout has led to hours-long waiting lines, and Black and other voters of color can expect to wait the longest. Voter protection specialist Josh Levin says that even after decades of legal battles over voting rights, communities of color consistently encounter barriers. Don also speaks with Carol Anderson, author and professor of African American Studies at Emory University. She argues that modern suppressioShow moren tactics are no different than those of the Jim Crow era.

  • Can You Vote Your Way to Change?

    If injustice occurs in America no matter who is leading the country, is voting really as powerful as we say it is? Election day is so close, yet not everyone is convinced that voting will lead to meaningful progress. Activist Daud Mumin argues that we need more than just incremental change. And Don speaks with Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown about whether elections are our most effective tool.

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