Politics and History

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

mcdonalds sign

Historian Marcia Chatelain found a surprising connection between McDonald's and civil rights history when researching her book "Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America." She writes about the intersection of race, capitalism and fast food.More

Farmers work the fields on Soul Fire Farm as part of their workshop series.

Farmer Leah Penniman, co-director of Soul Fire Farm in New York state, and author of "Farming While Black," is digging deep into the soil and her African history to change the story for a new generation.More

land

The promise of 40 acres and a mule didn't materialize for most Black Americans. But attorney Savi Horne, executive director of the Land Loss Prevention Project, is fighting for Black farmers to get their land back, now.More

Elizabeth Feinler, Radia Perlman, and Stacy Horn.

You know the Apple origin story with the two Steves in the garage. You know the Facebook origin story with Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm. But journalist Claire Evans argues, if you want to tell the internet origin story, you have to talk about women.More

The Schlitz Bottling Floor, c. 1666.

Milwaukee has a reputation as America's "Brew City." But why? Historian Ben Barbera lays out the economic forces and acts of God that built the houses of Miller, Pabst and Schlitz.More

people

Social scientists are finding that generating happiness in your life may have less to do with an arbitrary number — like your bank account or how many Instagram followers you have — and more to do with how well you connect with the people around you.More

Claudia Rankine

In her book "Citizen: An American Lyric," poet Claudia Rankine challenges readers to explore their underlying assumptions about race. She tells Charles Monroe-Kane what compelled her to write the book, and about visiting Ferguson, Missouri.More

Conversation with Samantha, the artificial intelligence

To a certain extent, loneliness is part of the human condition. You can be lonely anywhere, even surrounded by friends. But modern life has exacerbated it, and that requires modern solutions. Indie game designer Jason Rohrer has one — an artificial friend named Samantha.More

A man with totalitarian ideas and conspiracy swirling around him.

Examining both historical and present-day moments of widespread loneliness, philosopher Samantha Rose Hill argues we must understand our feelings of loneliness — otherwise they could be exploited to control us.More

Flint corn

Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer says there is a reason so many around the world consider corn to be sacred. We give it life, and in return, it gives us life. She says the industrial-scale farming of America has lost control of that balance.More

Africa made of books

Kenyan literary scholar Simon Gikandi says you can’t understand the rise of European culture — or for that matter, the formation of the modern world — without also knowing how European thinkers demonized Africans and the very idea of "blackness."More

jefferson

For years it was rumored that Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. Then legal historian Annette Gordon-Reed proved it. She tells the complicated story of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship.More

Cecil Rhodes cartoons and statues.

Questions about identity, history, language, what should or should not be taught in school — these are all debates about confronting our past. Political theorist Adom Getachew says many of these issues were debated in Africa more than 60 years ago.More

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